McDonald County made itself right at home on the road.
The Mustangs sprinted to a four-touchdown first-quarter cushion and routed Catholic 45-6 on Friday night in Springfield.
McDonald County scored on offense and defense to lead 28-0 after the opening 12 minutes and 38-0 at halftime. The Mustangs efficiently executed their game plan and cashed in on Irish turnovers.
"We really try to focus on doing our job from play to play," McDonald County coach Kellen Hoover said of the businesslike performance. "The things we can always control are our effort and energy."
The Mustangs moved to 2-0, setting the stage for a test at Lamar next. The 2-0 Tigers are the defending state champions.
"They're a really good team," Hoover said.
But back to McDonald County's victory.
After making a fourth-down stand on the Irish's opening possession, the Mustangs set up shop on the Catholic 35. Four plays later, quarterback Cole Martin found receiver Jack Parnell for a 22-yard scoring strike. Versatile running back Jared Mora, who had a busy night, kicked the PAT for a 7-0 edge at the 6:29 mark of the first quarter.
The Mustangs were off to the races.
On Catholic's next drive, Mora returned an interception for a touchdown. His second extra-point kick made the margin 14-0 with six minutes left in the quarter.
The Irish fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Andrew Watkins pounced on the pigskin at the Catholic 23. Martin later plunged in from the 1 as the advantage grew to 21-0.
A Destyn Dowd TD run and Mora PAT put McDonald County up 28-0 with 56 seconds left in the quarter.
While tipping his cap to the opportunistic offense, Hoover had plenty of praise for the dominating defense.
"I thought our defense played really well," Hoover said. "It kind of allowed our offense to have short fields. I'm really proud of our defensive line for getting pressure on the quarterback. Our defensive backfield did a nice job slowing down a talented group of receivers."
Mora accounted for the rest of the first-half scoring on a 12-yard touchdown run, a PAT and a 34-yard field goal. It was 38-0 at intermission, and Mora personally posted 20 of those points on two TDs, five PATs and the field goal.
"Jared Mora had a heckuva game," Hoover said.
In the third quarter, Martin and Colton Ruddick combined for a 40-yard touchdown pass. Martin hit Ruddick at the Catholic 35, and the receiver did the rest, weaving through the defense and into the end zone. Mora's kick capped the Mustangs' scoring and made it 45-0.
The Irish (0-2) got a fourth-quarter touchdown to avoid the shutout.
McDonald County, 2-0 for the first time since 2017, now turns its attention to mighty Lamar.