It was a marquee matchup Friday night at Leo Buckley Stadium between visiting Waco Midway and Harker Heights, and the two teams did not disappoint.
In the end, however, the No. 14-ranked Panthers were able to make a stop on a two-point conversion and came up with an interception on the Knights’ final drive to escape with a 34-32 victory.
Down 34-26 midway through the fourth quarter, Heights went on a 10-play, 74-yard drive that was culminated on a 17-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Robert Gray to fellow senior Xavier Rembert to pull the Knights within two with 6:06 remaining in the ballgame.
On the subsequent two-point conversion, however, Midway stopped Heights on a running play to prevent the contest from being tied.
With 3:43 left on the clock, the Knights stripped Panthers sophomore running back James Fullbright at their own 4-yard line, and senior linebacker Jared Kaltenbaugh was able to cover it up to give Heights another chance.
But an interception by junior defensive back Jackson Hicks at the Knights’ 43-yard line sealed the win for Midway.
“Honestly, I have to give Midway credit,” Heights senior Madu Eneli said. “They’re a great team and they played a great game. We also played a great game, but what it came down to was which team made the most mistakes and, sadly, we made a couple more mistakes than they did and it showed on the scoreboard.”
Eneli was an influential figure in the Knights’ backfield, as he rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. His first touchdown run, an 11-yarder, occurred with 3:56 remaining in the first quarter to tie the game up at 7 after junior Seth Bodolus made the extra point.
Heights had a promising drive going to open the game, but was forced to punt. The exchange on the punt was mishandled, and Midway’s Matthew Barnhill was able to pick the ball up and trot 10 yards to the end zone for the first score to put the Panthers up 7-0 at the 8:19 mark in the opening period.
The Knights went ahead 14-7 on a 7-yard scoring gallop by junior tailback Jameel Hodges with 9:40 left till halftime.
Midway then answered with a 12-yard touchdown on a pass from junior quarterback Tanner Mordecai to junior C.J. Williams with 6:23 remaining in the second quarter.
But senior defensive end C.J. Parker was able to answer for Heights by intercepting a pass and racing 40 yards for a score. The subsequent extra point failed.
The Panthers scored once more before the half on a 1-yard run by Fullbright to take a 21-20 lead into the break after Jack Gary’s point after was true.
The Knights regained the lead on a 3-yard run by Eneli with 2:59 left in the third. Their two-point conversion attempt failed, and Heights led 26-21.
Midway then scored twice before the end of the third period on a 1-yard run by Fullbright and a 69-yard scamper by senior Ger’Markee Satterwhite. The Panthers failed on a two-point attempt and made an extra point to go up 34-26.
“It was a really close game, and I really wish it would’ve been the other way around,” Eneli said. “But it just shows what kind of team we are and how far we’ve come to compete with a team like Midway.”
Heights picked up 27 first downs to Midway’s 15, but the Panthers outgained the home squad offensively 392 to 374.