The name Mordecai in Hebrew means “Warrior.” The Waco Midway Panthers, led by their warrior Tanner Mordecai, defeated the Southlake Carroll Dragons 42-28 Saturday in the Class 6A Division II state quarterfinal football game at McLane Stadium.
Mordecai ran for four touchdowns and threw for another as the Panthers (14-0) continued their quest for their first state football championship in school history and ended the season for the Dragons (10-4), who enjoyed their best year since reaching the quarterfinals in 2014.
Mordecai, who has committed to play for the University of Oklahoma next season, sealed the victory with 33 seconds remaining. His only touchdown pass of the game was a 29-yarder after escaping would-be tacklers in a collapsed pocket as Midway took a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.
“I’ve always measured a quarterback by how they respond to adverse situations. We put him in one, and he responded,” Carroll coach Hal Wasson said.
Wasson’s own quarterback, junior Will Bowers, engineered that adversity with a second-half comeback. With the Dragons playing without standout junior running back T.J. McDaniel (1,846 yards, 23 touchdowns), out with an injury, Bowers led Carroll back to tie the game at 21 with three touchdown passes.
“Will’s a very physical, tough young man. Through this journey he has shown great leadership skills,” Wasson said.
Bowers also had a five-yard touchdown run that pulled Carroll back to within 35-28 with 7:52 left in the game.
“I watched Will grow all this year and I can’t wait to see him next year,” an emotional Carroll senior wide receiver Cade Bell said. “He’s a beast.”
The Dragons tied the game on Bower’s 18-yard pass to sophomore R.J. Mickens, one of two times they connected for a score, with 2:14 left in the third quarter. However, it was short-lived, as Mordecai broke free for a 46-yard touchdown run two minutes later.