The McDonald County Mustangs built a 14-0 halftime lead and held on in the second half to claim a 21-13 win over Logan-Rogersville on Aug. 31 in the Mustangs' home opener.
"We had a much better focus tonight than last week," said coach Kellen Hoover. "We still have to clean up some penalties but, overall, I just really liked where our focus was. Our preparation the last couple of days at practice, I think that led to a more focused and better-executed game tonight. We still have some things to clean up. We didn't play a perfect game by no means."
The Mustangs' first touchdown was set up by two big plays by the special teams. After being forced to punt without gaining a first down in its opening drive, McDonald County's Zach Woods hit a 53-yard punt to pin Logan-Rogersville inside their own 10-yard line.
The Wildcats were also forced to punt after three plays, but a strong rush on Brock Carter's punt forced a shank that went straight sideways, giving McDonald County the ball on the Logan-Rogersville 18-yard line.
It took McDonald County just four plays to score, with Oakley Roessler covering the final five yards. Dylan Allison's first of three extra points gave McDonald County a 7-0 lead with 7:39 left in the first half.
The Wildcats failed to pick up a first down on its ensuing possession, but Carter's second punt was good for 30 yards to give McDonald County the ball on its own 45-yard line.
Ben Mora hit Marshall Foreman for 20 yards on the Mustangs' first play and Roessler and Joe Brown had 10 yard runs, but McDonald County could not overcome a holding penalty and turned the ball over on downs at the Logan-Rogersville 22-yard line.
The Wildcats then put together their first drive of the game. Sophomore Zachary Bergmann converted a third and one with a 19-yard run for a first down. All-conference receiver Ryker Strong ran for nine yards. Bergmann then hit Strong for five yards for another first down. Bergmann ran 10 yards for Logan-Rogersville' third first down on the drive, but the Mustangs defense held on a fourth and 11, taking over at their own 27-yard line early in the second quarter.
Logan-Rogersville was without starting quarterback Reed Metz, who showed up for the game on crutches after getting injured earlier in the week at practice.
"He was going to be a defensive problem for us," Hoover said of Metz. "He is a big, strong kid. He throws the ball well and he runs well. He is that dual-threat quarterback who is a nightmare for defensive coordinators. The two kids they played at quarterback did a really good job. We kind of had to adjust. We did a great job on things that were in the game plan and when they went off game plan it takes any defense just a little time to adjust. I thought our defense did a great job of playing fast all night. This was one of the fastest games I have seen our defense play in the two years I have been here."
A five-yard punt on the Mustangs' ensuing possession gave the Wildcats the ball on the Mustang 27-yard line. But on fourth and three, Bergmann was stopped short and McDonald County took over at its own 19-yard line.
McDonald County then put together an 11-play, 81-yard touchdown drive. Roessler ran for 20 yards in the drive and Mora had a 16-yard run before hitting Boston Dowd for 34 yards to give McDonald County first and goal from the one. Joe Brown crashed in on the next play to give McDonald County a 14-0 lead with 3:54 left in the first half.
Starting from its own 36, Logan Rogersville marched to the McDonald County 10-yard line. But, after three plays lost three yards, the Wildcats faced a fourth and goal from the 13. A.J. Craft took over for Bergmann. The junior, in his first game at quarterback, rolled right before reversing field to outrun the Mustang defense to the end zone, but an illegal blocking penalty negated the touchdown before an incomplete pass on the following play ended the drive with less than a minute in the half.
The two teams traded turnovers to start the second half before the Wildcats went 55 yards in 11-plays to cut the Mustang lead to 14-7. Bergmann hit Strong twice for 19 yards and ran for 23 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown with 6:12 left in the third quarter. Austin Revels added the PAT.
McDonald County answered with a 12-play, 70-yard drive to stretch the lead to 21-7 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Eleven of the 13 plays of the drive were running plays that covered 60 yards, including five by Roessler for 44 yards. Brown capped the drive with his second one-yard touchdown run of the game.
"That was the time of the game when we have to respond," Hoover said. "It was like a heavyweight fight -- we take a shot and now we have to respond in a big way. There is a lot of human being over on that right side (Elliott Wolfe and Tryston Leach) of the line -- a couple of 300 pounders and we would be crazy not to run right behind those two a lot. Those two guys like that role. They say 'get right behind us and we'll move some people.'"
The Wildcats countered with a 64-yard drive in nine plays to cut the lead to 21-13 with 6:30 left. Bergmann capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown. Revels extra point attempt hit the crossbar leaving the Wildcats trailing by eight with 6:30 left in the game.
Logan-Rogersville had one last chance to tie, taking over on its own 13-yard line with 2:38 left. But after gaining a first down on a pass interference penalty, the drive stalled when Bergmann was sacked on fourth and three.
It took McDonald County just two plays to run out the clock for its 21-13 win.
Roessler led the Mustang offense, gaining 124 yards on 23 carries. Brown had 29 yards on seven carries, while Mora completed seven of 11 passes for 87 yards and also ran for 63 yards. Foreman caught three passes for 34 yards, while Dowd had two catches for 42 yards. Reece Cooper had one catch for four yards, and Junior Teriek had one catch for seven yards.
"Oakley ran hard -- Joe ran hard and Ben ran hard," Hoover said. "All of our backs ran really well and ran extremely hard. They got those hard yards. I tell them we always want to be falling forward, and I think tonight we took some shots and kept going forward."
Defensively, the Mustangs were led by Michael Williams and Brown with six tackles each. Micah Burkholder and Junior Eliam had five each, including two for losses by Burkholder.
McDonald County, 1-1 for the season, opens its Big 8 Conference West Division at East Newton on Sept. 7. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.Sports on 09/06/2018
Print Headline: Focused Mustangs Win Home Opener