COPPERAS COVE — University of Oklahoma football commit Tanner Mordecai showed off his running and passing skills for Waco Midway against Copperas Cove High School.
It just took him 12 minutes to warm up.
But a resilient Copperas Cove team made the Panthers work for everything.
Cove held a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, but ended up losing 49-45 in the District 8-6A opener for both teams.
Cove fell to 2-3 overall, 0-1 in district play with the loss. The Bulldawgs fought back in the second half to regain the lead, but could not hold Midway out of the end zone in the fourth quarter.
Midway is 5-0 overall, 1-0 in district play and recorded its 21st consecutive district win in the process. The Panthers are ranked No. 8 the state in Class 6A.
Mordecai ran for 54 yards and threw for another 311 yards in the first-half explosion. He was 18-for-28 passing in the first half despite several drops by his receivers.
Copperas Cove looked as if it was going to pull off a homecoming upset, twice taking 10-point leads in the first half. Cove got on the scoreboard on a 36-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jaylen Smith to receiver Floyd Connell 83 seconds into the game. Antonio Mutt added the extra point and a field goal later in the quarter for a 10-0 lead.
Waco Midway scored on the first play of the second quarter on a 21-yard run by Mordecai.
Cove running back Shontez Simmons ran the next play from scrimmage for a touchdown, giving Cove a 17-7 lead two plays into the quarter.
Midway struck quickly midway through the quarter on a 54-yard touchdown pass from Mordecai to C.J. Williams. The Panthers were facing a second-and-30 situation, but got out of it with a long touchdown pass.
The quarterback put Midway ahead 21-17 a minute later on a 7-yard run.
Jason Fulbright scored just before halftime for the Panthers on an 8-yard run.
Mordecai hit Demarcus Degrate with an 11-yard touchdown right before the half, giving the Panthers 35 points for 12 minutes of game action.
Cove trailed 35-17 at intermission after leading by 10 points twice in the first 24 minutes of action.
The Bulldawgs bounced back in the second half, taking the opening drive 65 yards in nine plays. Simmons ran 3 yards for a score at the 8:08 mark of the third quarter. Cove trailed 35-24 at that point.
Mordecai scored his third rushing touchdown four minutes later on a 2-yard run to cap off a 10-play drive.
Simmons responded again with a 63-yard touchdown run on the next offensive play for Cove. The extra point by Mutt pulled the Bulldawgs within 11 points at 42-31.
The Bulldawgs stopped Midway on its next possession and took over at the 11-yard line when Midway snapped the ball over the punter’s head. Daveon Thomas scored on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Smith.
The Bulldawgs took the lead 17 seconds later on a fumble recovery by Ezekiel Buchanan on defense and a 16-yard touchdown run by Simmons.
Cove led 45-42 heading into the fourth quarter.
Both teams threatened to score in the fourth quarter, but Midway broke through at the 2:33 mark on an 8-yard run by Fullbright, making the score 49-45 Waco.
Cove had a last chance to win the game, but failed to move the ball into the end zone.
The loss ruined a stellar performance by Simmons. The running back rushed for 184 yards and scored four touchdowns. Smith threw for 186 yards and two touchdowns and Connell caught nine passes for 135 yards and one score.
Defensively, Tommy Connell made 8½ tackles and Andy Riley Clark made 8 stops for Cove.
Mordecai finished with 127 rushing yards and 420 passing yards for Midway.