By Trevor Scott | KBEC Sports
Though the final score might indicate otherwise, Midlothian Heritage pulled away from Life Waxahachie in the final minutes of what was an otherwise strong defensive showing for both teams Friday night at Mustang Stadium.
The Jaguars led just 14-7 as the game turned to the fourth quarter but managed to find enough offense to defeat the Mustangs and clinch the second seed in the District 8-4A standings with a 24-7 victory.
There were exactly 100 plays run in the game, with 44 of those snaps going to the Midlothian Heritage offense and resulting in 18 first downs and 422 total yards. The Life Waxahachie Mustangs ran 56 plays and picked up 14 first downs and 276 total yards. Both teams with 7 penalties.
“It was just a great ball game,” Heritage head coach Lee Wiginton said. “They [Life Waxahachie] do such a good job running the ball and controlling the clock. They made some big first downs. I thought we had them in some good third-down situations, and they did a good job of converting third downs and staying on the field. Offensively, we had some things we were doing well, and we had some drives that just stalled out. We didn’t really put drives together to be able to drive down the field.”
He added, “We did enough to come out on top against a very good football team, a very well-coached football team, at their place, in a district ball game, a very meaningful ball game. I just could not be more proud of these kids.”
With both teams playing sound defense early, the game turned toward the midway point of the first quarter tied at 7-all.
The Life Waxahachie offense had an opportunity to take the lead, too. But, after recovering an offensive fumble, a missed field goal gave the Jaguars the ball and the momentum — or so it seemed.
The first quarter ended on a 12-yard run by Latray Miller (13-69) to put the Heritage offense in business. The Jaguar offense then turned the ball over on the first play of the second quarter — a play-action pass that was tipped by the receiver fell into the hands of Mustang defensive back Robert Williams.
Fortunately for Heritage, the Mustangs subsequently turn the ball over on downs.
Heritage senior quarterback Cade Sumbler (14-18, 208 yards, INT) eventually tossed one of his three touchdown passes — this one to Haydon Wiginton — to put the Jaguars on top, 14-7, with 6:50 left in the first half.
That score held through the end of the second quarter. Behind stellar defensive efforts, that score remained as the game turned toward the fourth quarter, too.
With the ball around mid-field at the start of the fourth quarter, the Mustang offense called a trick play and threw a double pass to Chance Caro (2-44), who brought the ball down at the 12-yard line. Following a couple of short gains and now facing fourth down, the Heritage defense stuffed the Mustangs attempt and forced a turnover on downs.
The Jaguars took advantage of the momentum swing on their ensuing drive — thanks largely in part to two big-chunk plays.
The first was a 23-yard completion from Sumbler to Wiginton and the second was a 50-yard run by Cullen Stone (6-98) that took the football to the Mustang 5-yard line.
Three plays later, with the Jaguars facing a third-and-goal situation, a play-action pass was nearly pulled down by a Heritage wide receiver. The Jaguars instead settled for a 23-yard Haden Riggins field goal for a 17-7 lead with 5:15 to play in the ballgame.
Sumbler and the Heritage offense eventually capped the game when the signal-caller completed a play-action pass to Jay Wilkerson (7-116) for his second of two touchdown receptions on the night. The 41-yard reception put Heritage on top by the final, 24-7.
After the game, Life Waxahachie head coach Heath Blalock told KBEC Sports that the effort by his defensive unit “proved that they can really get after it.”
“We knew we were going to have to stop the run, and they have a real deal receiver,” Blalock said. “I felt like we did a really good job up until the very end, and he got us.”
BY THE NUMBERS
SirMichael Veasley, who scored the first touchdown of the game, finished with a team-best 86 rushing yards on 17 carries for the Mustangs.
Gage Mayfield added seven carries for 61 yards to go with his 58 passing yards on 5-of-8 through the air. He also caught six passes for 45 yards.
Trevon Brantley led the Mustang defense with nine total tackles and two tackles-for-loss, while Trenten James (8 total tackles) and Robert Williams (INT) also helped the cause.
HOW THEY STAND
Midlothian Heritage improved to 5-4 overall and 3-1 in District 9-4A, while Life Waxahachie fell to 6-3 overall and 2-2 in district play. The Jaguars are locked into the second seed in the district standings. The Mustangs will be the third seed with either a win or Athens loss in week 11.
“We’re certainly focused on getting into the playoffs, it’s not the seed we were hoping to get, but we’ve got a good football team here and I’m proud of these young men,” Blalock said.