Mustangs Prevail In First Conference Game
MUSTANGS PREVAIL IN FIRST CONFERENCE GAME; NOW 3-1
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.