ARLINGTON — The Midway magic ran out. Rather, the Cy-Fair defense took it out.
For a team that likes to establish the run game early, Midway was forced to be one-dimensional as the Panthers threw the ball twice as much as they ran it.
Without that threat of an explosive run by a guy like James Fullbright, Midway struggled early to get into any kind of rhythm offensively as Cy-Fair defeated the Panthers, 51-35, in the Class 6A Division II state championship at AT&T Stadium.
“It just seemed like from the very first play we were a little snake-bit,” Midway head football coach Jeff Hulme said. “We just couldn’t catch a break. Everything was bouncing their way. That’s what happens when you play a good team. Cy-Fair is a good team. They earned it. It doesn’t take away from our season. These kids can hold their heads up and (I’m) just real proud of them.”
The Bobcats jumped out to a 7-0 lead as Trenton Kennedy set the tone early. Cy-Fair’s running back powered his way two yards into the end zone nearly halfway into the first quarter.
Kennedy, who was named the contest’s Offensive MVP, finished with 23 carries for 110 yards and three touchdowns.
After Kennedy’s first touchdown, the Midway defense made a stand to hold the Cy-Fair offense to just a field goal after the Bobcats started their drive on the Panther 36-yard line.
Good field position was a common theme for Cy-Fair as the Bobcats started a drive with the football on Midway’s side of the field four times on six first-half drives and eight times on their 13 overall drives.
Two of those times were because of Panther fumbles in the third quarter which the Bobcats answered with touchdowns. And at the end of the second quarter, a bad snap by Midway was recovered in the end zone by Cy-Fair for a touchdown.
“Turnovers are turnovers,” Hulme said. “They had a short field on several things. We were able to put some points on them. We ought to feel happy about that.”
Photos by Rod Aydelotte
ARLINGTON — Maybe it should have been an omen when the Midway state-bound caravan encountered a nasty traffic snarl before even departing Waco.
Midway got on the board with just over five minutes into the second quarter as Mordecai hit Dart Smith over the top of the Bobcat defense for the 48-yard touchdown.
Every touchdown for the Panthers came through the air as Mordecai completed 33 of 52 passes for 406 yards and five touchdowns. That was huge for the Panthers as the Cy-Fair defense had shut down the Midway run game. Mordecai and James Fullbright combined to run the ball 17 times for 24 yards.
Led by Mordecai and C.J. Williams — who had 14 catches for 195 yards and three touchdowns — the Panthers didn’t quit after going down 44-7 with 1:43 left in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter alone, Midway outscored Cy-Fair, 28-7.
“We could have had many chances to get out dauber down,” Hulme said. “Yeah, we got a little frustrated but we battled. We were able to make a few plays and make it a game. That’s what I’m proud about with these kids.”
As the fourth quarter began, the old Panther offense showed its face as the Bobcats learned they couldn’t hold Midway down forever.
On 4th-and-6, Mordecai completed a 40-yard pass to Williams which set up a 16-yard touchdown connection between the duo a play later. The Panther defense followed that up by forcing the Bobcats to punt on 4th-and-long.
And through the air once again, the Midway offense found the end zone. Five straight passes to three different receivers, each longer than 10 yards, set up a two-yard touchdown pass from Mordecai to Williams.
Down by 23 points with just over seven minutes left to play, the Panthers recovered an onside kick. Midway faced 3rd-and-25 on the drive, but a 21-yard completion to Cobe Burch followed by a five-yard completion to Fullbright kept the drive alive.
Two plays later, it was Mordecai to Williams again for the touchdown. That cut Cy-Fair’s lead to 16 with plenty of time left on the clock. But this time, the onside kick stayed with the Bobcats as Justin Uriarte took the ball 48 yards to the house.
Midway scored once more with two minutes to play.
“I hope that’s what these guys remember,” Hulme said of the fight his team showed down the stretch. “That’s what we’re going to talk about in the locker room is, ‘Hey, I know you’re hurt right now. I understand that.’ But they’re going to be able to look back on this game and this season and have a lot to smile about.”