In a game that saw two defenses mostly on their heels, it was a pair of Bearcats’ defenders who were responsible for winning the game in overtime.
On the fourth play of overtime, Aledo cornerback DeMarco Roberts knocked the ball out of the hands of Midlothian running back Jeremey McCoy and alert safety Nathen Fingar scooped up the loose ball and sprinted 82 yards for the game winning touchdown to give the Bearcats a stunning 34-28 victory over the Panthers .
The win, Friday night in a District 5-5A, Division II game at Bearcat Stadium, keeps Aledo’s ongoing state-record district winning streak alive at 86.
The win raises the Bearcats’ record to 4-1, 3-0 in district play. Hard-luck Midlothian – which has now lost two district games on the last play – falls to 4-2 and 2-2 in 5-5A
Bearcats head coach Tim Buchanan said he was proud of his team for never giving up, particularly the defense after giving 338 total yards, and fighting until the end. Midlothian led 28-21 with under two minutes left in regulation.
“Not one guy on this team, offense or defense, ever gave up fighting,” he said. “Our defense kept getting back up and fighting, and the offense scored late when we need a score. I am so proud of them. The defense won this game for us, and again, they never quit fighting.”
The Bearcats had just tied the game, 28-28, on a last-second drive that sent the contest to overtime.
Midlothian began the overtime period by rule on the Aledo 25-yard line, and after runs of seven and six yards, respectively, brought the ball to the AHS 12. After a loss of a yard on a running play, Midlothian faced a second and 11 from the Bearcats’ 13.
On the ensuing play, Midlothian slotback Jeremy McCoy – who was very instrumental in the success of the Panthers’ offense all night – was stripped of the ball by Roberts, and Fingar kept the district winning streak alive with his run to the end zone.
“I just saw the ball on the ground and I just scooped it up,” Fingar said. “I knew I had to score. Coach Buc told us a fumble recovery would win the game, and he was right.”
The Bearcats (4-1, 3-0 in 5-5A) will continue district play at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11 against Burleson High School at Burleson ISD Stadium.
If the first half of the game could be compared to a cartoon, it would have to have been the Roadrunner versus the Coyote.
The first five drives of the half each produced a touchdown, with the Panthers – the Coyote – taking its time and using 20:39 of the 24-minute first half to reach the end zone. Aledo had the ball for the last 16 seconds of the first half on its “third” drive.
Aledo – the Roadrunner – began with a three-play touchdown drive and added another TD on a 7-play drive. Both TD drives consumed a total of just 3:21.
Midlothian received the opening kickoff, and with its flexbone triple-option option offense steadily drove down the field. The Panthers converted three third downs on running plays in its 16-play, 75-yard drive that ended on a one-yard plunge across the goal line by running back Ethan Hill.
The drive took 9:27 off the clock, and Shane Reasonover booted the extra point as the visitors took a 7-0 lead.
It took just three plays and 48 seconds for the Bearcats to match the score. The drive ended on 43-yard TD pass from quarterback Jake Bishop to Money Parks, who easily beat single coverage as he hauled in the perfect spiral and raced to the end zone.
Micco little booted the extra point to tie the game, 7-7.
Midlothian came back with 13-play, 75-yard drive – converting a pair of third downs on running plays – and scored on a three-yard run off left tackle by slotback Jeremy McCoy with 8:37 left in the second quarter.
Reasonover added the PAT to give the Panthers a 14-7 lead.
The Bearcats, again, matched the score on their next drive. The play in the 7-play, 67-yard drive that set up the TD was a 17-yard run by Jo Jo Earle, who took a direct snap from the “wildcat” formation and raced to the Midlothian 16-yard line.
Two plays later, tailback DeMarco Roberts flew down the right side, broke four tackles before spinning out of another and into the end zone with 5:58 left in the opening half. Little’s PAT tied the score at 14-14.
Midlothian came back with a 13-play drive, the first 12 running plays. But the drive stalled at the Aledo 15 where the Panthers faced a fourth and four. Quarterback Nicholas De Los Santos dropped back to pass for the first time in the game, and he found receiver Nathan Humphreys wide open on the left side of the end zone for a TD with 16 seconds left in the half.
The PAT was true as Midlothian took a 21-14 lead, where it remained at the half.
On its first drive of the second half, it took just three plays for the Bearcats to tie the score. The TD drive was capped on a 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Bishop to Jo Jo Earle, who beat double coverage, hauled in the pass at the 10 and waltzed into the end zone just 53 seconds into the second half.
Micco Little added the extra point to tie the game, 21-21.
Midlothian, using its four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-rubber-pellets offense, methodically drove down the field to regain the lead on an 17-play, 75-yard drive that was also aided by 20 yards of Aledo penalties, the most crucial a five-yard offside penalty on fourth and one from the AHS 8.
Two plays later, slotback McCoy broke a tackle in the backfield before scoring from three yards out, and the PAT gave the Panthers a 28-21 advantage.
For the first time in the game, Aledo was forced to punt, but the Bearcats’ defense held the Panthers three and out as MHS was also forced to punt.
With their backs against the wall – not to mention a state-record district winning streak on the line – Aledo marched 68 yards on eight plays to tie the game. Bishop completed three passes to receiver Jaedon Pellegrino in the drive, and his 15-yard completion to Earle brought the ball to the MHS 11.
On the next play, Bishop found Money Parks for an 11-yard touchdown, and Little’s PAT tied the game and sent it into overtime.