ARLINGTON — Jeff Hulme has referred to James Fullbright multiple times this season as a bowling ball. The junior running back, who has 1,321 yards on the season, breaks through the holes made by his offensive linemen and then proceeds to ground and pound all night long. Behind 137 yards from Fullbright, Midway cruised to a 59-7 victory over Byron Nelson in the Class 6A Div. II area playoff game inside AT&T Stadium Friday night.
“It was good,” Midway coach Jeff Hulme said. “It was a little more relaxing than the Grand Prairie one. I knew Byron Nelson was going to come out ready to go. They were going to make us run the ball early, and we did. I thought James and our offensive line did a great job.”
Fullbright went to work early. After his first four carries went for a total of nearly 40 yards, Fullbright powered up the middle and literally broke free of a tackler’s grasp for a nine-yard touchdown run.
With the ground game established from the start behind Fullbright and senior quarterback Tanner Mordecai, the Panthers were able to lull Byron Nelson to sleep with the rush before killing them over the top through the air.
“I think it’s tremendous,” Hulme said. “Anytime they got to take care of all four receivers and our running game, I mean, it’s hard to defend both. So, that’s what most teams are having a hard time doing. Once we figure out what they want to do then usually we light them up.”
Mordecai’s first completion hit D’Ante Thomas on a slant for 34 yards. On a team full of dynamic receivers, Thomas was the dude for Midway on Friday night. The junior finished with six catches for 133 yards.
C.J. Williams, who entered the area contest leading the Panthers with 1,211 receiving yards, got behind the entire Byron Nelson for a 50-yard touchdown. Williams put up 85 yards on two catches, both touchdowns, against the Bobcats.
His touchdown gave Midway a 14-0 lead less than a minute into the second half. Byron Nelson didn’t give up, though, as the Bobcats scored two minutes later. Byron Nelson faced 4th-and-1 on Midway’s 44 yard line. There wasn’t a Panther defender in the secondary as their focus was on stuffing the Bobcats at or behind the line of scrimmage. That plan didn’t work, however, as the Bobcats’ Jaired Chamberlain busted through the line and couldn’t be caught for the 44-yard touchdown.
“I thought the defense did tremendous,” Hulme said. “When they scored, they had a good scheme on that play. They ran it again later on and we did a good job of stopping it.”
If anyone inside the stadium thought Midway’s confidence may have deflated after giving up the touchdown, they were proven wrong almost instantly. Trevius Hodges fielded the kickoff off a bounce at the 9-yard line and then took off. No one could catch him as he took it 91 yards to the house.
And as the Midway defense continued to pick up big stops and defend the pass well, the Panther offense continued to do what it does — score points.
A field goal and a seven-yard touchdown pass from Mordecai to a wide open Cobe Burch in the back of the end zone gave Midway a 31-7 lead at the half.
The Panthers scored three more times after intermission. Two scores came after the Midway defense came up with a turnover. The first, an interception by Grant Parnell, set up a 35-yard touchdown pass from Mordecai to Williams. Then, a fumble recovery by Grant Graves set up a 22-yard touchdown pass from Mordecai to Demarcus Degrate.
Overall, Mordecai finished 12 for 17 for 267 yards and three touchdowns in addition to 57 rushing yards and a score.
The scoring was capped off for Midway late in the fourth quarter when junior defensive tackle Willie Jackson scooped up a fumble and took it 38 yards into the end zone.
“Willie is a great young man,” Hulme said. “He’s got a great personality. He works his tail off for us. To have something good like that happen for him is tremendous.”