Mus­tangs Pre­vail In First Con­fer­ence Game


McDonald County Press - - FRONT PAGE - Rick Peck

A de­ter­mined, phys­i­cally dom­i­nant Mus­tangs squad bounced back from a slow start to pull out an im­pres­sive 21-14 win on Sept. 8 over the Cassville Wild­cats.

The an­swer to a trivia ques­tion posed years from now will be the Cassville Wild­cats.

The ques­tion would have been, “Whom did the McDon­ald County Mus­tangs beat for their first win af­ter join­ing the Big 8 Con­fer­ence in 2016?”

Af­ter going 0-7 last year in its first year in the Big 8 Con­fer­ence, McDon­ald County dropped its first con­fer­ence game of the Kellen Hoover era last week.

A de­ter­mined, phys­i­cally dom­i­nate Mus­tang squad bounced back from a slow start to pull out an im­pres­sive 21-14 win on Sept. 8 over the Cassville Wild­cats, who came into the game 2-1 with their only loss to six-time de­fend­ing state cham­pion La­mar.

“That was one of the best team wins I have ever been a part of as far as all three phases of the game go,” Hoover, head coach, said. “You can just go down the line. De­fense, ob­vi­ously they just played great, es­pe­cially in the sec­ond half. I think they had only one play where they had much of gain af­ter half­time. The rest of the half the kids gained con­fi­dence and con­tin­ued to fly around. The de­fense played lights out in the sec­ond half af­ter bat­tling a lit­tle ad­ver­sity in the first half.

“Of­fen­sively, we got back to we wanted to do a lit­tle more. We

“That was one of the best team wins I have ever been a part of as far as all three phases of the game go.” Kellen Hoover Mus­tangs Head Coach

want to pound the rock. We want to be the more-phys­i­cal team, es­pe­cially up front. We got out-phys­i­caled last week and we couldn’t let that hap­pen again. Then, you say de­fense, you say of­fense, and then you have spe­cial teams. Reese Cooper grabbed a high snap on an ex­tra point and get­ting it down was big; Pey­ton’s (Bar­ton) kick­ing and punt­ing and Dy­lan’s (Al­li­son) ex­tra points. There were just a lot of things that won’t show up in the box score that were huge.”

Cassville took the open­ing kick­off and had no trou­ble march­ing down the field. The Wild­cats ripped out huge chunks of yards time af­ter time, grind­ing out a 78-yard touch­down drive in 12 plays. McDon­ald County blocked the PAT to keep the score 6-0 with 5:53 left in the first quar­ter.

Af­ter the teams traded punts, McDon­ald County re­sponded with a 74-yard touch­down drive in nine plays capped by Is­r­rael De San­ti­ago’s 27-yard touch­down run on a fourth and one. Al­li­son’s ex­tra point gave the Mus­tangs a 7-6 lead with eight min­utes left in the first half.

Cassville an­swered on its en­su­ing pos­ses­sion with an 87-yard touch­down drive in eight plays, keyed by a 35-yard touch­down pass from Shan­non Haney to D.J. White. Gar­ret Knight ran the con­ver­sion to give the Wild­cats a 14-7 lead at in­ter­mis­sion.

Spe­cial teams of both teams played a big part in McDon­ald County’s ty­ing the game in the third quar­ter. First, McDon­ald County quar­ter­back and punter Pey­ton Bar­ton, boomed a pair of con­sec­u­tive 60-yard punts (the sec­ond was nec­es­sary af­ter an il­le­gal pro­ce­dure negated the first) to switch field po­si­tion to start the pe­riod.

Then, af­ter Cassville’s An­thony Tol­bert ran for 40 yards to move the Wild­cats into Mus­tangs ter­ri­tory, the Mus­tangs forced a short punt, tak­ing over on their own 17. Af­ter mak­ing one first down, McDon­ald County was forced to punt again. Nor­mally, when peo­ple talk about a quar­ter­back’s legs they mean his run­ning abil­ity. But Bar­ton backed up his pre­vi­ous

60 yarders with a 58-yard bomb that pinned Cassville back to its eight-yard line.

The Mus­tangs de­fense forced a three and out. When Cassville tried to punt, the Mus­tangs rush made punter Bowen Preddy pull the ball down and try to run, but McDon­ald County brought him down at the Cassville five-yard line.

Af­ter two De San­ti­ago runs net­ted a one-yard loss, Bar­ton found Kennedy Hod­son open in the cor­ner for a touch­down. Cooper then brought down a high snap to al­low Al­li­son to tie the game at 14-14 with 3:28 left in the third quar­ter.

The McDon­ald County de­fense forced an­other three and out, giv­ing the of­fense the ball on the Mus­tangs 37-yard line.

In what has be­come to de­fine the McDon­ald County of­fense, the Mus­tangs took more than eight min­utes off the clock, marched 63 yards in 16 plays for the go-ahead touch­down.

De San­ti­ago car­ried eight times for 21 yards, but his big­gest play was a catch of a Bar­ton pass for a 10-yard gain on fourth and eight from the Cassville 11-yard line.

Tim­ber Teague pounded over the goal line on the next play. Al­li­son’s kick gave McDon­ald County a 21-14 lead with 6:56 left in the game.

“When we needed those long drives most of the year, we have come up with them,” Hoover said. “That’s our line dig­ging down deep late in the game be­cause they are ex­hausted. Then you have Izzy (De San­ti­ago) who has played about ev­ery snap on de­fense, too. He is a war­rior for us. He gets ex­hausted but you don’t see him take a lot of plays off or re­ally any at all. That’s one thing we have no­ticed. He is ex­hausted and we know he is ex­hausted — but he just keeps on going. That’s a tes­ta­ment to our kids’ con­di­tion­ing and how hard they work in the weight room.”

Fac­ing its most im­por­tant pos­ses­sion of the game, the Cassville of­fense lost a yard on its first play, four more on its sec­ond and three more on its third be­fore be­ing forced to punt from the McDon­ald County 15-yard line.

With no one on ei­ther side­line doubt­ing what would come next, the Mus­tangs, aided by a 15-yard per­sonal foul, pounded a pair of first downs on the run­ning of De San­ti­ago, Teague and Bar­ton to run out the clock.

“Cassville tries to ap­proach things like we do,” Hoover said. “They want to pound the rock as well. It was just a good, hard-nosed, kind of old-school foot­ball game and we were for­tu­nate to come out on the win­ning end of it.”

De San­ti­ago fin­ished with 145 yards on the ground on 34 car­ries. Teague added 31 yards on 10 car­ries and Bar­ton had 13 on eight and was six for 11 for 77 yards in the air. Cole DelosSan­tos caught three passes for 22 yards, while De San­ti­ago had two for 49 and Hod­son had one for six yards and a touch­down.

Cassville was held to 219 to­tal yards, 154 on the ground. Af­ter sub­tract­ing the neg­a­tive plays, the Wild­cats had just 25 of their to­tal yards af­ter half­time.

DelosSan­tos led the tackle chart for the Mus­tangs with 14 stops while Teague had nine, Hod­son eight and Trey Black seven.

McDon­ald County, 3-1 over­all and 1-1 in the Big 8, hosts Mount Ver­non for home­com­ing on Fri­day night. Game time is 7 p.m. at MCHS with home­com­ing cer­e­monies to be­gin at 6:25 p.m.


McDon­ald County quar­ter­back Pey­ton Bar­ton tries to get past a Cassville de­fender dur­ing the Mus­tangs 21-14 win on Sept. 8 at Cassville High School.


McDon­ald County de­fen­sive back Kennedy Hod­son dives in an at­tempt to stop Cassville’s Lo­gan Car­lin dur­ing the Mus­tangs 21-14 win on Sept. 8 at Cassville High School.

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