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Courtesy Midlothian ISD Athletics

Midlothian Panthers advance to third round of football playoffs for first time in over 3 decades

By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports

ABILENE — A fast start followed by a stellar defensive effort catapulted the Midlothian Panthers into the third round of the football playoffs for the first time since 1988.

The (8-4) Panthers’ 21-17 victory against (7-5) Lubbock Coronado also marked the second-ever area championship in program history. 

The Panthers had only previously won bi-district titles in 1983, 1984, 1988 and 2018. 

Midlothian will now face (9-3) Mansfield Summit at The Gopher Bowl in Grand Prairie at 7 p.m.

Summit defeated El Paso Chapin 56-7 in the 5A Division-I, Region-I area round. Summit previously defeated Midlothian 42-21 on Oct. 29 during district play.

As for Friday, Coronado ultimately outgained Midlothian 421 total yards to 348. It was, however, the five Mustang turnovers that spelled the difference.

Coronado lost all three of its fumbles. Quarterback Jett Carroll (21-33, 231yds, TD) was also picked off twice by Xavionte Jackson.

Jackson also hauled in two receptions for 47 yards, which included a clutch 46-yard gain.

De’ago Benson (17-95), Micahel Garber (11-84, 2TD) and Kaden Smith (6-83) paced the Panther rushing attack that accounted for 301 yards on 50 attempts (6.0 YPC).

THE GAME

Midlothian opened the game much better than the Panthers could’ve drawn up.

Michael Garber scored from 4 and 45 yards out in the first quarter (10:22, 8:03) to build a quick 14-0 Midlothian lead. 

Panther quarterback Chad Ragle later added a 1-yard touchdown run with 8:36 to play in the second quarter for a 21-0 Midlothian advantage. 

The Coronado offense eventually responded, though, pulling within 21-14 as the first-half clock trickled toward 1:30 to play. 

That score held as the two sides entered the halftime locker room, separated by just two total yards (Coronado led 261tot yds to 259). 

Garber led the Panther offense with nine carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns at the break. Kaden Smith added four carries for 67 yards, while Jordon Richburg (7-32) and De’ago Benson (4-28) also ran well. 

Ragle finished the first half 2-of-6 for 47 yards through the air.

The Coronado offense was led by quarterback Jett Carroll (13-19, 157yds, TD, INT) and running back Antonio Malone (13-109, TD). 

A few possessions into the second half and Coronado faced third-and-goal from its 8-yard line. The Mustangs called a timeout as the play clock ran toward zero. 

A heave into the end zone was broken up by the Panther secondary, forcing Coronado into a 25-yard field goal attempt. The Mustangs were then flagged for a 5-yard false start and 30-yard attempt. 

The kick utilized the wind and snuck inside the left upright to pull the Mustangs within a single possession, 21-17. Midlothian needed to eat up 8:55 of the fourth-quarter clock to hold onto the victory. 

Following a short stalemate, Thompkins forced a fumble — the fifth of the game — and Braden Smith recovered with just over four minutes to play.

Benson carried the ensuing snap for 15 yards to the Mustangs’ 30-yard line. 

Midlothian then faced a third-and-2 with 2:52 to play a few snaps later, which forced a Coronado timeout. 

The Mustang defense held strong and stopped Benson 1-yard short of the line to gain. But Wendel and the Panthers went for the win, anyway.

Benson picked up 4 yards on the ensuing fourth-down snap to all but sealed the Panther victory. Midlothian was set up first-and-10 from its 42-yard line as the clock ran toward two minutes to play.

The Panther offense picked up yet another first down with under 90 seconds to play, allowing Ragle to take the final three snaps from the victory formation.

PRE-GAME PREDICTIONS

Dave Campbell’s Texas Football projects Lubbock Coronado as an 8-point favorite. DCTF Insider Matt Stepp also tabbed the Mustangs as an 8-point favorite.

KBEC Sports predicts a 6-point Midlothian victory. 

LAST TIME OUT: Midlothian defeated (8-3) Fort Worth Brewer, 21-17. 

About Travis M. Smith

Travis M. Smith serves as the digital sports director for KBEC Sports. He is the former managing editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light, Midlothian Mirror and Glen Rose Reporter.

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