If any Oklahoma fans in town for Saturday’s contest against Baylor decided to venture a few miles south to Panther Stadium in Hewitt to see what they should expect from Sooner commit Tanner Mordecai, there’s no chance they left disappointed.
Midway’s senior quarterback put on a show Friday night as he finished 18 for 30 for 264 yards and five touchdowns, as well as 15 rushing yards and a touchdown, in the Panthers’ 42-7 victory over Waco High.
Midway coach Jeff Hulme had no idea Mordecai racked up a total of six touchdowns as Oklahoma running backs and special teams coach Jay Boulware was in attendance.
“Did he really?” Hulme said. “Oklahoma needs to come down every week then.”
Mordecai, always the competitor, said the Sooners being in town didn’t amp up his game at all.
“I just always try to play my game,” Mordecai said. “Just play my game with my guys. That’s what I try to do every single week.”
Tanner Mordecai is competitive in everything. But if he had to choose, outside of football, …
It wasn’t the best start for Mordecai and the Midway offense, though, as the Lions recovered a fumble on Midway’s second and third offensive drives.
Behind the speedy duo of Jaylen Harris and Terrance Hamilton, Waco High took an early 7-0 lead as the two combined for 156 yards in the first half. Midway defenders would get within arm’s reach of them, but Harris and Hamilton used their speed to zoom past those Panther tackles.
“We started out a little slow,” Hulme said. “Waco didn’t. I thought Waco played hard. We hurt ourselves a little bit with turning the ball over, especially down there near the goal line. You know, you give a good team like Waco some hope and they’re going to play well, and they did.”
While the Lion offense found its rhythm powered by its run game, the Midway offense continued to struggle, especially on the Panthers forth drive when Mordecai was sacked to force a punt. But after Waco High missed a field goal, Midway finally found its footing.
“We just noticed that they were packing the box,” Mordecai said. “We just got the ball in open space to our playmakers. They did what they do.”
The Panthers only ran the ball once as Mordecai and the Panther receivers got things done through the air. Mordecai placed the ball where only C.J. Williams could grab it above two defenders in the middle of the field for a 16-yard gain before he found Cobe Burch tiptoeing down the sideline for 16 more yards. That set up a 30-yard touchdown by Williams as Mordecai found him slanting across the field.
“We were finally able to get going in the second quarter,” Hulme said. “There were a couple big turnovers our defense got that gave us a spark, that energy we needed. We were able to finish it in the second half.”
With just over four minutes left in the first half, the Panther offense and defense found their harmony. Parker Nell came up with a huge fumble recovery which led to another receiving touchdown by Williams. Nell made the big play again the following Lion drive as he intercepted Harris’ pass on first down which placed the Midway offense on the Waco High 29-yard line.
“Parker was phenomenal,” Hulme said. “He’s a junior, which is exciting. He’s just going to get better and better. We’ve got some young kids that got to play tonight. He really led the charge with two turnovers. Dad gum it, I really wish he would have gotten that touchdown (on the fumble recovery), but getting those two turnovers was a big, big spark for him.”
One play was all the Panthers needed as Mordecai hit Cashon Lewis for the touchdown to take a 21-7 lead at the half.
And the Panthers kept rolling once the second half began. Early in the third quarter, a Waco High lineman nearly had his hand on Mordecai’s left arm, but Mordecai slung a quick pass to Dart Smith for a touchdown. A penalty erased the touchdown and moved the Panthers back five yards. That didn’t faze Mordecai as he connected with a wide open Demarcus Degrate for a touchdown. That score came after Lewis recovered a Waco High fumble on a punt return.
Whenever Marty Herbst watches the film of those games, he can’t help but wince and fidget. I…
After Waco High ran for 155 yards in the first half, the Midway defense held the Lion rush attack to only 44 yards. Harris led the way with 103 yards, followed by Hamilton with 86.
“Their quarterback did a great job of going one way and cutting back against us,” Hulme said. “We just did a good job on the sideline piecing it together and figuring it out a little bit better.”
Overall, the Panthers scored on all three drives in the third quarter. Mordecai connected with Smith for a 24-yard touchdown before running it in himself from two yards out for his sixth score of the contest.
Mordecai spread the wealth to his receiving corps. Williams led the way with four catches for 60 yards, followed by Lewis with three catches for 56 yards and Cobe Burch with three catches for 54 yards. Marcus Johnson had one reception for 35 yards, Degrate had one for 27 and Smith had one for 24.
“I’m really, really lucky,” Mordecai said. “I’m really fortunate to have the guys that I have. I believe in every single one of them. And the offensive line is always really good. I have one of the best lines in the state. I love every single one of those guys.”