By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
HEWITT - It wasn't a long touchdown pass, but the Killeen offense's first play of the game set the tone just the same.
A fumbled handoff from quarterback Garrett Gaskamp to Victor Scott led to a gate-opening field goal and the Roos went into their fourth straight postseason despite a 33-19 loss to Waco Midway on Friday at Panther Stadium.
"Me and the running back just weren't on the same page, and the ball ended up on the ground. It was just bad," Gaskamp said of the fumble. "That started the whole game right there, started off flat right there. The blocking was good and everything, but when we fumbled it right there, that just ruined the whole game right there."
After Drew Owens' 15-yard field goal with 5:31 left in the first quarter, the Panthers (8-2, 4-1 8-4A) scored three touchdowns in four second-quarter drives to take a 24-0 lead into halftime and led 31-0 after B.J. Kelly's third rushing touchdown with 6:06 left in the third.
"We just didn't come ready to play. It was one of those games that if we don't start it (right), it's hard to finish it," Killeen coach Sam Jones said. "I think we're a better second half team and we played better, but the first half we didn't play well. ... Overall, we've got to learn to play for 48 minutes."
Killeen running back Keaton Morris ran for a game-high 141 on 25 carries and had a 5-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter for the Roos (6-4, 2-3), who will play Granbury on Saturday at Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco at 7:30 p.m.
"It's not like we weren't ready, it's just we didn't have our minds right in the beginning," Morris said. "We just needed to have some sort of spark and just keep moving from there."
After a Killeen punt following Owens' field goal, Midway quarterback/receiver Kramer Robertson ran for six times for 43 yards and threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Jarmon that gave the Panthers a 10-0 lead with 30 seconds gone in the second quarter. And Killeen never got to answer.
The Panthers recovered their onside kick and Kelly, who finished with 85 yards on 16 carries, boosted Midway's lead to 17-0 with his first scoring run that really put Killeen behind the eight ball.
"It kept the defense on the field and I thought it was just too many touches for a good offensive team," Jones said of the onside kick. "It was big for them to go ahead and go up and kind of put us out a little bit."
Midway starting quarterback Jordan Darling completed all three of attempts for 35 yards and Kelly capped the drive with his 5-yard touchdown run. Kelly's second touchdown, a 22-yarder, gave Midway its halftime lead with 4:42 left in the second quarter. His third touchdown, a 2-yarder set up by his own 23-yard run and a 38-yard pass from Darling to Courtney Washington, capped the Panthers' first second-half drive and gave Midway a 31-0 lead.
Gaskamp completed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Myles Hill to break the Panthers' shutout bid with 2:05 left in the third. After Killeen was flagged for holding in the end zone to give the Panthers' a safety, Morris' 5-yard touchdown run cut Midway's lead to 33-12 with five minutes left in the game.
"We knew coming in at halftime, we didn't give up, but we didn't want to go out getting blown out because that's not really what we do," Gaskamp said. "I think scoring 19 points (in the second half) will pep us some going into the playoffs knowing we can score against Midway if we do meet them again in the playoffs."
Devyn Williams, who caught the game-opening 87-yard touchdown pass last week in the Roos' playoff-clinching 62-0 win over San Angelo Lake View, scored on a 19-yard jet sweep with 2:21 left.
The Roos posted just 76 yards of offense in the first half but finished with 335 in the game, putting together a second half they'll build on for momentum going into next week's playoff game.
"We're going to have to use that (second half), that's all we're going to have to us," Jones said. "We know we can play with anybody, we know we can play better than what we played the first half. Again, the seniors know, it's now or never."
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.