Loss all but ends Elks' playoff hopes
MIDLOTHIAN — A late rally by Burleson came up short Friday night and all but dashed the Elks’ dreams of returning the playoffs this season as Burleson fell to Midlothian, 34-23, in a District 5-5A game at MISD Multi-Purpose Stadium.
The loss was Burleson’s fourth consecutive in district play. The Elks (5-4, 3-4) are off next week and close out the regular season hosting Cleburne in the school’s annual Silver Spike game.
There still remains a sliver of hope for Burleson’s playoff dreams but the Elks would need some help. It all starts with defeating Cleburne on Nov. 9. Then Everman (3-5, 3-3) would have to lose its final two district games. The Bulldogs play at Waco University (3-5, 2-4) Friday and host Joshua (2-6, 1-6) to end the regular season on Nov. 9.
“Mathematically we are still in it, we just need some help,” Burleson coach Gary McElroy said. “We are still holding out hope. No matter what, we still have a lot to play for including a winning season and the Silver Spike.”
Trailing 28-10 the Elks scored back-to-back second-half touchdowns to close to within 28-23.
It was a far cry from an offense that struggled early in the game to move the ball consistently. Part of the struggles came from Midlothian’s defensive game plan,
“They completely went a different direction than what we had seen on film,” McElroy said. “It was hard to adjust to. We had to pick our poison. We could load up for one thing and be very susceptible to something else. They had two weeks to prepare. That was their season, they went all-out to win it.”
The win all but locked up a playoff berth for the Panthers (6-2, 4-2).
With 3:01 to play in the third quarter, Burleson cut the Panthers (6-2, 4-2) lead to 28-17 on an 18-yard scoring strike from Jacob Amador to Jacob Moss. The Elks kept the scoring drive alive thanks to a 12-yard run by Blake Myers on a fake punt that converted a fourth-and-three at the Burleson 46.
After forcing the Panthers lone punt of the night, Burleson needed eight plays to score. A four-yard pass from Amador to Aden Anderson capped a 66-yard drive with nine minutes to play. The Elks went for two looking to cut the lead to three points but Midlothian’s defense stopped Amador short of the goal line.
Amador had a good night throwing the ball, completing 16-of-25 passes for 160 yards and two scores. Anderson nabbed four passes for 65 yards and a score while Moss caught six passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.
“Their game plan was to stop our running backs and they did a good job of that,” McElroy said. “Once we got things settled we turned to our passing game. Our receivers did a good job of getting open, catching and then running with the ball.”
Midlothian, which finished the game with 324 yards rushing on 53 attempts, turned to its running game to put the game away.
The Panthers put together a 17-play (all runs), 79-yard drive that ate seven minutes and 10 seconds off the clock. Laine Martin capped the march with a three-yard run that put Midlothian up 34-23 with 1:40 to play. The Panthers were four-for-four on third downs during the drive.
Midlothian started the game fast scoring on three of its first four possessions.
Austen Thomas, who led the Panthers in rushing with 91 yards on 10 carries, put Midlothian up 6-0 on a 14-yard run. Tate Corbin gave the Panthers a 14-0 lead on a one-yard scoring plunge.
“If we could have gotten a stop on that last drive things might have been different,” McElroy said.
A fumble recovery by Ben Quirino at the Midlothian 34 led to the Elks first score of the game – a three-yard run by Caleb Lewis that sliced the advantage to 14-7.
The Panthers answered quickly four plays later when Corbin hit Nathan Humphreys for a 50-yard score and a 21-7 lead.
The Elks closed to within 21-10 on the final play of the first half when Edgar Zaragoza nailed a 34-yard field goal.
Midlothian opened the second half with a scoring drive that took 5:30 off the clock. The Panthers went up 28-10 when Nolan Samek broke free for a 28-yard score with 6:30 to play in the third quarter.
Burleson scored on its next two possessions but the defense couldn’t make a play on the Panthers final drive.