HEWITT — With the defending district champion sputtering in the first half, Ellison stayed right with Waco Midway early Friday.
But a late first-half touchdown, followed by a third-quarter onslaught, left the Eagles still searching for a win as Midway handed Ellison its 24th straight loss in a 34-14 victory at Panther Stadium.
Ellison (0-4, 0-1 in District 8-5A) pulled within 9-7 late in the first half before Midway (3-1, 1-0) went back up two scores on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Ben Hicks to Raydell Watley.
Yet despite falling behind 34-7 by the start of the fourth quarter, Ellison coach Trent Gregory was proud of his team for sticking with Midway, which has now won 12 straight district games.
“I loved their fight, I loved their battle,” Gregory said. “Our defense is fighting their tail off. Offensively, we’ve just to continue to improve and get better, and we will.”
For the most part, Ellison was right there with the defending district champs in the first half as Midway stumbled to six first-half penalties, all false starts, and three botched snaps for a total of negative 43 yards.
Midway went up two scores, however, by capitalizing on an Ellison mistake, a tipped pass that was intercepted by senior linebacker Lyle Sherman and returned 35 yards to the Ellison 5.
Ellison nearly held Midway to a field goal inside the 10 for the second time in the half before Hicks found Devontre Stricklin for a 6-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal. The extra point was missed, putting Midway up 9-0 with 3:51 to play in the first.
Despite turning the ball over on downs in Panther territory for the second time in the half, Ellison seemed poised to go into the half down less than a field goal after junior Jacob Ledford hooked up with Jawara Smith-Watkins on a 22-yard fade pass that cut the Midway lead to 9-7 with just 2:13 remaining in the half.
But following a big return on the ensuing kickoff, Hicks hit Watley on a deep post for a touchdown that gave Midway a 16-7 halftime lead.
Ellison had just one first down in the third quarter while Midway capitalized on good field position by scoring on each of its third-quarter drives.
Already up 27-7, Xavier Hailey busted the game open with a 66-yard catch and run, going untouched up the seam for a 34-7 lead with 3:33 remaining in the third.
“(That touchdown) made us play better and just take our game to another level,” said Hailey, who had a combined 162 yards and two touchdowns on the night.
“That’s a good football team,” Gregory added, “Man, they’re good. They’re big, they’re physical, they’re disciplined, and hopefully we got better (by playing them).”
And despite still looking for Ellison’s first win since 2010, Gregory and his team were ready to get back to work, encouraged by the early results against a 3-1 Midway team.
“I don’t have time for people to feel sorry for themselves — nobody cares,” Gregory said. “So, we’re going to go to work in the morning and get ready for Belton.”
Contact Jordan Mason at email@example.com or 254-501-7562