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For possibly the first time this season, the Midway Green Wave defense may have bailed out the offense in their 49-15 win over Grace Christian Academy Friday night in the first round of the TSSAA Class A playoffs.
The high powered Grace passing offense had put up some pretty good numbers the past few weeks, but Midway’s defense stepped it up a notch by forcing eight sacks and the defensive backs picked off three more passes to choke off much of the Rams momentum.
Jacob Franklin came up big for the Green Wave defense with four of the eight sacks. Dayne Britt and Steven Blasko with a sack each along Matt Oliver’s two sacks would leave the Rams with minus 51 yards rushing on the night.
“Our defensive line got a lot of heat on their quarterback and that was the key tonight,” Midway head coach Craig Moser said. “And I thought our defensive backs played well. Even when they scored we had a chance to come up with some plays.”
For the second time in the last three weeks, Midway would trail at the end of the first quarter. They were behind 16-12 at Greenback and Fri-day they trailed 7-6 at the end of 12 minutes of play, but the Green Waves scored on five of their next six possessions to put the game away.
The Rams took the opening kickoff and drove for almost six minutes before scoring the game’s first touchdown. Quarterback Brad Self was five of five passing in the drive and hit Eric Williams for a 20-yard touchdown.
The extra point was tacked on to put the Rams up early 7-0.
Midway’s offense responded quickly enough and they ate up five minutes of clock to score their first touchdown.
Ray Robinson plunged in form the six for the score to complete a 10-play, 65-yard drive.
Freshman Jeremy Whitehead’s extra point was blocked to leave the Green Waves down 7-6 with 1:26 left in the opening quarter.
Grace picked up one first down after the kickoff, but the game began to turn when on the Ram punt as Midway’s Harley Davidson got a 56-yard return to the Ram 29.
Midway needed only five plays to score this time. Will Poe gained 12 on the first play then QB Eric Stansbury capped the drive with a four-yard run.
Stansbury kept on the two-point try but was stopped short, leaving the score 12-7 with 7:26 left in the first half.
Franklin got two of his sacks on the next Ram possession for a 20-yard loss and the Rams punted after three plays.
Midway’s offense, however, was a little cold on this drive as Stansbury would be intercepted on third down.
Midway, however, would not misfire on their next possession.
Starting from their own 37, Midway put together an 11-play scoring drive that ended in a six-yard run from Stansbury with 20.8 seconds left in the half.
Stansbury carried four times in the drive for 42 yards.
Robinson ran in the two-point conversion to put the Green waves up 20-7.
The second half began with a bang for the Green Wave as Robinson scored from 52 yards out.
Poe added the two-point conversion as Midway fans started breathing a little easier with a 28-7 lead.
Grace, however, wasn’t ready to quit as they tried to still make a game of it when they scored to end their next possession.
Self completed three passes for 58 yards in the drive including a five-yard pass to Mitchell Taylor for the touchdown.
Self also completed the conversion pass to Williams to make the score 28-15 with 8:59 left in the third quarter.
At this point, Midway went back to what they do best at this point and that is run, run and run some more.
After an onside kick attempt went only six yards, Midway had the ball at the Ram 46. Robinson gained 12 on the first two plays and Davidson picked up 30 to the four and almost scored.
Stansbury scored two plays later on a two-yard run to make the score 34-15 with 6:40 left in the third period.
Midway’s two-point attempt failed.
Oliver got his two sacks on the next Ram possession. The second came on fourth-and-11 and would give Midway the ball at the Ram 37.
Midway then put the game away with a three-play, 37-yard drive that ended in a three-yard run from Stansbury.
Stansbury also set up the score with a 26-yard scamper.
Stansbury threw to Robinson for the two-point conversion to put the Green Waves up 42-15 with 2:54 left in the third period.
The fourth quarter was mop up time.
Davidson scored the final touchdown with 4:39 left on a 10-yard run. He also had 52 yards rushing in the drive that produced the 49th point for Midway.
Whitehead hit the extra point.
Midway also got two more interceptions in the quarter with Chris Barry getting one early off of Jordan Hopkins. Charles Binger picked off his second pass of the season off Williams on a halfback pass.
Midway rolled up 434 yards of total offense with 414 coming on the ground.
Three Midway players, Stansbury (14-115), Davidson (8-113) and Robinson (14-112) rushed for more than 100 yards on the night.
Grace managed 246 yard through the air, but had the minus 51 yards on the ground because of the sacks for a total of 195 yards in the game.
Midway (10-1) now hosts the second round of the playoffs next Friday when they take on Harriman (6-5) for a second time this season. Midway will be going for the school record for wins in a season Friday against Harriman. Four Midway teams have finished the season with 10 wins.
Midway defeated Harriman 42-20 in week eight, but Coach Moser doesn’t think his team will be looking past the Blue Devils because of their big margin of victory in the first contest.
“I think our guys will be focused,” Moser said. “Our guys came off the field the first time we played them and they said Harriman was one of the most physical teams we played all season. Our guys haven’t forgot that.”