FORT HOOD — Untimely penalties and costly turnovers have marked Killeen’s difficult year.
But Friday night, the Roos (1-6, 1-3 District 8-5A) were simply overpowered and couldn’t handle Waco Midway in a 58-20 loss, cramping Killeen’s playoff hopes.
Midway remains alone atop the district standings, dominating the playoff race.
“We’re still not there,” said Midway coach Terry Gambill. “We don’t talk about that. We talk about one day at a time. We’re very, very appreciative of the way we’ve worked all week and prepared for this game.”
The Panthers (6-1, 4-0) marched their way to 639 total yards as running back Xavier Hailey scored four total touchdowns with 204 total yards on 10 carries and three catches. Quarterback Ben Hicks completed 17 of 27 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns.
Killeen running back Daniel McCants knocked and stutter-stepped his way to 205 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
Although Killeen received the opening kickoff, Midway scored first. A ball snapped over punter Keleen Yates’ head deep in Killeen territory settled behind the end zone. Less than one minute into the first quarter, Midway led 2-0 before its first possession.
Killeen came out in the wildcat during its second formation, with Keondre Parker in the shotgun. The starting senior receiver led his team 80 yards in 3 minutes, 17 seconds.
McCants shouldered four loads on the drive, including a 42-yarder bringing Killeen to Midway’s 28, and a 1-yard touchdown run on which he sprinted to the left corner and quickly juked right on defensive back Kyrell Gibson as he crossed the goal line.
On the next drive, the Panthers traveled 45 yards to Killeen’s 14 before defensive back Deandre Dunlap intercepted a Hicks pass that slipped through Hailey’s hands, and returned it 57 yards to Midway’s 33.
From the left hash five plays later, Alex Gilland line-drove a kick just inside the left upright, capping a six-play drive.
Killeen led 10-2 going into the second quarter.
“Coach (Sam) Jones, Killeen, as you saw tonight, they were up on us, and I’m very proud of our kids for the way we handled adversity,” Gambill said. “It’s all about staying focused throughout the week and getting better on a daily basis.”
On his fifth carry from scrimmage, Hailey found the end zone on a left-side run, capping a nine-play, 57-yard drive of 3:02 to open the second quarter.
The Roos showed wildcat on the next drive as well, but went three and out.
The Panthers reclaimed the lead after Hicks completed four passes for three first downs, including a 27-yarder to Raydell Watley that set up a 1-yard Hailey run. Midway went up 17-10 when Eric Clayburn punched it in on a left-side swinging gate play, capping an eight-play, 53-yard drive in 2:12.
Midway extended its lead with a 26-yard pass from Hicks to a wide-open Devondre Stricklin to cap a five-play, 68-yard drive that lasted 1:40.
With 2:39 left in the first half, Garrett Gaskamp showed resilience and flare. Killeen’s senior quarterback completed key passes to Dominic Dungca and Devyn Williams before taking a hit on an 18-yard screen pass to McCants, which set up the Roos on Midway’s 32 before the drive stalled on fourth down.
On the next play, Hailey burst through the left side for a 70-yard touchdown with 47 seconds remaining in the first half.
A gritty Gaskamp completed six straight passes to Dante Ellis-Thomas, McCants and Williams for 57 total yards to put his team on Midway’s 18. His ensuing heave into the end zone was picked off.
Midway led 30-10 going into halftime.
The Roo defense hung tough on the next drive, stuffing Clayburn on third-and-2.
McCants again carried to perfection on the next drive, which included a 54-yard run in which he broke goal-line tackles, sprinted down field, stutter-stepped and stiff-armed deep defenders before getting dragged down at Midway’s 3. He scored on a 3-yard run off left tackle to cap a four-play drive lasting 1:26.
But five plays later, Hicks hit Hailey on a wide-open wheel route, which went 66 yards for a touchdown.
On its next drive, Killeen managed a 32-yard field goal with 3:16 left in the third quarter, but the Roos failed to put up any more points.
Midway put in its substitutes about three minutes into the fourth quarter, after another 66-yard touchdown pass to Stricklin and a 34-yard left-side touchdown run by Clayburn sealed the win.