By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
WAXAHACHIE — Over 400 rushing yards and one heck of a second-half comeback by the Waxahachie Indians led to a 40-yard Clyde Melick game-winning field as the clock expired Friday night.
The kick came with three seconds to play and after an impressive seven-play drive with one minute and change to play. There wasn’t ever a doubt of the ball splitting the uprights after it left Melick’s foot, ultimately lifting the Indians to a 31-28 victory against visiting (1-7, 1-4) Waco Midway.
The win is the third-consecutive for the Indians in District 11-6A — a streak last reached to open the 2016 District 10-5A slate. Waxahachie, under then-head coach Jon Kitna, went on to lose each of its next four games and miss the postseason. That season began with six wins before the Tribe finished with a 6-4 record.
Of course, missing the postseason won’t be an issue for this year’s team, as the (4-4, 3-2) Indians clinched their first-ever 6A playoff berth last Friday with a win against Mansfield.
As for this week, Waxahachie relied heavily on the ground game and incredible success with the zone-read.
Senior quarterback BJ Hawkins rushed 22 times for a game-high 208 yards and three touchdowns. Fellow backfield companion Shawn Cherry rushed 18 times for 191.
Waxahachie ultimately outgained Midway 435 total yards to 417, with a season-best 411 of those yards coming on the ground (9.1 YPC)
The Indians also forced a season-high five turnovers.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Indians got the scoring started when transitioned-quarterback BJ Hawkins found Joseph Lankford for a 9-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed with the Indians on top, 6-0, with 10:13 to play in the first half.
The Tribe defense then recorded the first of its three interceptions on the ensuing Midway drive. Preston Hodge, who is as shutdown a cornerback as there is in 7-6A, picked off the Garrett Childers (6-16, 153yds, TD, 3 INTs) pass in the end zone and returned it to the Indians’ 16-yard line.
Hawkins led the offense on an eight-play, 84-yard drive that ended with the senior rushing in from 1-yard out. Melick drilled the extra point for the 13-0 Waxahachie lead with 6:03 showing on the second-quarter clock.
Childers closed the first half with an 83-yard touchdown run and an 82-touchdown pass to Zach Stewart (4-135).
The Panther offense went on to score a pair of rushing touchdowns in the third (Childers, 1-yard) and fourth (Dominique Hill, 9-yards) quarters to build a 28-13 lead with 11:42 to play in the ballgame.
Hawkins opened the ensuing Waxahachie drive with a 22-yard run and capped it three plays later with a 29-yard touchdown scamper to cut the Panther lead to 28-20.
The Waxahachie defense followed by bowing its neck to force a Midway punt from the Indians’ 41-yard line with 6:35 to play in the fourth quarter.
Cherry opened the drive with an 88-yard run to the Midway 6-yard line. Hawkins then scored his second rushing touchdown of the second-half two plays later. He added the two-point conversion run and tied the game at 28-all with 5:19 left in the fourth quarter.
With an opportunity to steal a win, the Panther offense pieced together a 13-play, 58-yard drive that moved the ball inside the Indians’ red zone with one-minute-and-change to play. That 13th play, however, resulted in Waxahachie linebacker Jh’Marques Head intercepting Childers’ pass.
Seven consecutive runs — highlighted by a 14- and 23-yard gain by Hawkins — moved the Indian offense to the Panthers’ 21-yard line with three seconds showing on the clock.
Melick then took center stage and drilled the game-winner from 40-yards out to seal the 31-28 come-from-behind win on senior night.
Waxahachie is slated to return to action Friday at home against (1-6, 0-5) Waco High. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m., though the Lions have forfeited each of their past two games due to positive COVID-19 tests.
All photos by Kirk Holt/KBEC Sports
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith