HEWITT — After watching his team muster just a field goal without him in a loss to Shoemaker a week earlier, Waco Midway quarterback Ben Hicks refused to be a spectator again Friday.
Even with a partially torn MCL.
Hicks suited up for the Panthers on Friday and certainly did his part, tossing four touchdowns to help Midway pull away from Harker Heights in a 45-21 victory at Panther Stadium.
“It was awesome,” Hicks said of returning to the field, “I can’t explain it because sitting on the sideline last week watching (Midway) get beat was just heartbreaking to me.”
Hicks keyed a Midway rally in the second quarter as the Panthers (7-2, 5-1 in District 8-5A) scored 21 straight, all on touchdown passes by Hicks, in the final 8:11 of the second quarter to take a 31-14 lead into halftime.
Despite the second-degree tear in his MCL, Hicks helped his team rebound from its first district loss in two years by completing 17 of 24 passes for 214 yards and four touchdowns in the game.
Heights (2-7, 2-4) entered the game needing a win to continue to control its playoff fate, yet thanks to losses elsewhere in 8-5A, may still have a shot at the postseason with a win in its season finale against Copperas Cove.
“It’s like I told the kids today, we controlled our own fate today,” Heights coach Jerry Edwards said after the game. “Now, we don’t control our own fate, but (thanks to) the powers that be, we still have a chance. And we’ll play on that.
“If we get in, we get in. We’re just going to go out and play, and next week we’re going to give it our all.”
After Leo Peralta broke a 7-7 tie in the first by drilling a 55-yard field goal, Heights responded with its second long scoring drive of the night.
Quarterback Troy Smith — who hit junior Bobby Etheridge on a 1-yard bootleg pass on Heights’ first scoring drive — did it himself on the second drive with a nice pump fake to free himself for an 18-yard touchdown run up the left sideline.
Then Midway began its offensive blitzkrieg.
Following a 57-second drive capped by a 13-yard screen pass from Hicks to Xavier Hailey for the score, Heights muffed the ensuing kickoff, which Midway recovered to set itself up at the Knight 20.
It took one play for the Panthers to capitalize as tight end Jayson Clements was all by himself on the left side for a 20-yard touchdown and a 24-14 lead.
After going up at the 9:08 mark in the second, Heights found itself down two scores in just a minute and seven seconds.
“We were like, man, we’ve got to play,” Hicks said. “Defense had to make some adjustments. We just started scoring touchdowns instead of 3.”
The lead ballooned to 31-14 late in the first half as Hicks hit Devontre Stricklin for his fourth touchdown of the half, this one a 26-yarder to cap a 10-play, 74-yard drive.
“We played well the first quarter, then we had, once again, special teams, a kickoff (error), and that kind of turned the tide,” Edwards said. “And after that, it’s just hard right now for our kids to overcome that, and we never really overcame that.”
Midway went up 38-14 on its first drive of the second half, which Eric Clayburn capped with a 12-yard touchdown run on a draw in the red zone.
Heights later pulled within 17 again on a 51-yard play-action pass from Smith to Masnari Howell, the second touchdown toss of the night for Smith, who also had a team-high 94 yards on the ground.
But Midway responded with a second touchdown by Clayburn on the ensuing drive to put the game away.
Ailing Midway QB sparks Panthers in 45-21 rout of Knights
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