STORY BY: BOB WRIGHT
– WACO – For A&M Consolidated’s Tigers, Friday night’s 34-27 loss at Waco Midway Stadium could easily be titled “An evening of missed opportunities.”
To be sure, the Tigers, after whipping Copperas Cove 31-20 a week earlier to start the season at home, were playing no slouches in the Midway Panthers. Midway, led by quarterback Kramer Robertson and running backs B.J. Kelly and DeChaar Greer, and defensive lineman Bubu Alvarez, made the clutch plays again Consol, following a week-earlier 34-7 victory over the Bryan Vikings.
Midway came into the fray with speed to burn and overall team quickness. While the Tigers also boast some speed, quickness and a hard-hitting defense, those aforementioned missed opportunities played a major role in Friday evening’s outcome.
In reality, it was two very fine Class 5A teams out-finessing one another for the most part. While the Tigers didn’t lose a fumble, some tipped balls resulted in three interceptions off the Tigers, and all three set up at least one of Midway’s payoff drives, while one other snuffed out Consolidated close to Midway’s goal. Those three picks really hurt and in the final analysis proved to be the difference.
However, the turnovers never put a dent in the Tigers’ will to win. The club kept coming back, including a late charge with 4:26 remaining as Consol closed to within 34-27 when Tyler Spaw snagged a pass from quarterback Jaylan Cheshire, good for 21 yards and a score. Spaw made a fine run after the reception, dragging two Panther defenders into the end zone. Dillon Moore booted the extra point. The payoff drive went 47 yards.
After kicking off the Midway, B.J. Kelly gouged out one yard and a first when the Panthers faced fourth-and-one at the Panther 34. That was a big play for the victors, and it didn’t help Consol when the Tigers were tagged with a facemask violation on the same play. That stepped off 15 more yards of real estate, allowing Midway to drive deep before Robertson took a knee to run out the clock in a show of sportsmanship for Coach Terry Gambill’s Panthers. B.J. Kelly’s 15-yard run had clinched the clock, and thus the win, allowing the final seconds to tick away.
Kyle Chism of the Tigers proved to be a top defender for Consol, stripping the ball, then falling on the fumble earlier in the game. Chism, along with Jimmie Gilbert, Michael Claustan, Josh Haley, Danny Ochoa, Coleman Dennis, Eric Yates and Randy Whited all played stellar roles in the Tiger defense.
The offense was sparked by linemen Kyle Kavanaugh, Stephen King and others, while wide receivers Spaw, Kerry Thomas, Daniel Hulse and Josh Stewart continued to make catches, despite three drops which were somewhat uncharacteristic of the receiving corps.
Consolidated took a quick 7-0 lead after receiving before seeing Midway close to within 7-3 then take a 10-7 lead at conclusion of the opening period. Consol got back the lead at 14-10 before trailing 17-14 at halftime. Midway, in the third period, went ahead 24-14 before Consol got a field goal, making it 14-17, then getting another field goal, leaving the third-quarter score 24-20, Panthers. In the final quarter, Midway went ahead 31-20, then 34-20 before Consol came back for its final touchdown.
Trying to catch up, Consol recovered a fumble, but then promptly turned it over with an interception, one of those three backbreakers.
Cheshire, the senior signal caller, guided the Tiger offense for 20 first downs to 18 for Midway, and completed 18 passes, including two interceptions on 38 aerials. Cheshire also does the punting, kicking twice for a 54-yard average.
Robertson three 24 times and completed 15 for the Panthers, who last year lost to Lake Travis in the Class 4A Division I State Championship game. Both Midway and Lake Travis were put in the Class 5A classification this season.
Consol had 276 total yards of offense, while Midway had 381.
The Tigers’ first TD came off an 81-yard drive on their initial possession when Cheshire hit Kerry Thomas with a 10-yarder just two minutes and 30 seconds deep into the game. Dillon Moore, perfect for the season, kicked the extra point.
Drew Owen kicked a 31-yard field goal at the 2:35 mark of the first quarter, pulling the Panthers to within 7-3, then took the 10-7 lead in the opening period on DeShard Greer’s five-yard run with 10 seconds remaining in the period. Moore booted the point.
In the second quarter, Consol got a Midway fumble at the Panther 36, then turned it over on the next play with an interception. Midway had to punt, and the Tigers had dodged a bullet at that juncture.
Consol then went ahead in the second period on a 10-yard pass from Cheshire to Josh Stewart with 3:06 remaining. Moore’s kick was good, leaving Consol in front 14-10.
Midway then went ahead in the period on Robertson’s three-yard run with 51 seconds left. The score had been set up by a 48-yard pass from Robertson to Hunter Jarman, making it 17-14.
Another pass from Robertson to Jarman, this one a 14-yarder, and Owen’s kick propelled the Panthers in front 24-14 with 8:09 to play in the third.
Moore nailed a 26-yard field goal, closing the gap to 24-17 in the period.
Moore then booted a 43-yard field goal, making it 24-20.
In the fourth period, Greer scored from the six and Owens’ kick had the Panthers up 31-20. Owens kicked a 35-yarder, putting Midway up 34-20.
Consolidated hosts the Westlake Chapparrals this coming Friday night at 7:30 amongst the friendly confines of Tigerland Stadium.