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Midlothian Panther defense fuels home-opening win against Forney

By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports

The Midlothian Panthers exploded for three touchdowns in the second quarter to throttle the visiting Forney Jackrabbits on Friday.

Surprisingly, two of those second-quarter touchdowns came via the passing game in the (1-1) Panthers’ 42-13 win at Midlothian ISD Stadium. The Midlothian defense also shut out the Jackrabbits in the first half. 

Midlothian opened the scoring when Deago Benson (14-65) capped an 11-play, all-rushing, 59-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. His score came with 5:58 to play in the first quarter. 

And that score would almost be all that the Panthers would need to secure their first win of the season. Forney managed a touchdown in the third and fourth quarter while mustering just 260 total yards of offense on 14 first downs. The Panthers also forced a pair of turnovers. 

Midlothian head football coach Doug Wendel said of the pregame show of honor, “What an honor and privilege we get to live in this free country. However, freedom is not free. We honored the 13 lives sacrificed in Kabul this past Friday night. The Midlothian Panther football team & Midlothian ISD Athletic programs send our thoughts & prayers to their families.” (Courtesy Midlothian ISD Athletics)

“Our focus all week was on improvement within each position group and it showed up,” Midlothian head coach Doug Wendel stated in his weekly newsletter. “We played winning football in four games against Forney (sub-varsity and varsity) and one against Boswell with our JV white. We are proud of our kids. The Panthers are looking forward to the next challenge of facing a solid [Wichita Falls] Rider team. We can’t wait to see the next brick added.”

Carson Bates was named the Panthers’ defensive player of the week, while Chad Ragle received the offensive nod. Both are juniors.

Wendel applauded the efforts of Ragle during his adjustment period from running back to quarterback. He also passed along praise to Bates’ dedication to playing on both sides of the football — and playing well. 

Ragle completed 6-of-his-9 passes for 71 yards and a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to Xavionte Jackson (4-60, 2TD). 

LJ Adineran led the Panther rushing attack with 12 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. 


The Panthers will look to continue their momentum and non-district winning streak in week three against (2-0) Wichita Falls Rider. 

The Raiders finished the 2020 season with a 10-3 record after falling to Aledo, 55-28, in the fourth round of the 5A playoffs. 

“This game will be exciting,” Wendel said. “Last year, we had to cancel due to COVID-19 protocol, so we never got the chance to play this excellent program. The Rider Raiders will be a good team, solid in all three phases of the ball. We will have to be tougher and play with minimal mistakes this week. It is a long drive, but I would love to see a great crown in Wichita Falls — be loud, wear blue and cheer on the Panthers!”

Kickoff at Memorial Stadium, located at 5401 Southwest Parkway in Wichita Falls, is slated for 7 p.m. Friday.

Tickets may be purchased online at wfisd.net/athletics under ‘Rider Football.’ Online presale Tickets are $6 for adults & $2 for students.


All photos by Kirk Holt/KBEC Sports


Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith


About Travis M. Smith

Travis M. Smith is the owner and content director of Ellis County Sports and has over a decade of award-winning sports coverage. He most recently served as the digital sports director for KBEC 1390AM/99.1FM. He is the former managing editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light, Midlothian Mirror and Glen Rose Reporter.

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