Home, not so sweet
Mustangs welcomed by crowd, not Eagles
BEAVER SPRINGS — Speed kills. Just ask Midd-West.
Playing in front of nearly 1,800 fans for their first home game in program history, the Mustangs had no answer for Blue Mountain’s blitz packages or strong running game in a 35-0 loss.
The Mustangs couldn’t establish much of anything throughout the game, and the struggles struck rather early, turning the ball over on back-to-back drives to start the contest.
The Eagles took advantage, scoring touchdowns on both occasions.
The first came following a third-down fumble by Mustangs’ quarterback Marc Piccioni.
The Eagles only needed two plays as Ben Kramer punched it in from two yards. The scoring play was set up by a 42 yard gain by Brent Kaunas.
Then a third-down interception by Piccioni bounced out of the hands of Owen Zechman and became an Eagles possession and a one-play drive. A 29-yard pass from Hunter Luckenbill to Jason Dean resulted in a touchdown.
The forced turnovers stopped after that, but sustaining a drive never happened for Midd-West, which turned the ball over on downs four times throughout the contest.
“Credit to them. I mean, they had a good game plan coming in for us,” Midd-West coach Brad Hatter said. “(Blue Mountain) just crowded the line of scrimmage and we just weren’t able to move them out. That was the name of the game. We felt as a staff, if we were able to control the line of scrimmage as we did last week against Marian, we’d be in good shape. We just weren’t able to do that, bottom line.”
The two teams couldn’t have played more differently. Midd-West ran with more of a run-pass option while scrambling away from pressure while the Eagles used their backs all game long and weren’t pressured much. Piccioni had a game-high 21 rushes with 61 yards to show for it while Luckenbill only broke off with a pair of rushes.
By comparison, both quarterbacks didn’t throw much either with Piccioni getting off 10 passes to Luckenbill’s 9, but it was the Eagles who made them count.
Luckenbill went 3-for-9 with no interceptions and a pair of touchdown passes. His second of the game came on the first play of the fourth quarter when he connected with Brandon Becker from eight yards out.
Deciding to keep the ball or punt it away was also a focal point of the game.
Midd-West went for it on fourth down six times — converting twice — while the Eagles only did so once.
That decision paid off big for the Eagles as facing a fourth-and-five, Kramer ran 50 yards seemingly untouched for a touchdown on the team’s first drive of the second half.
Kramer finished with 122 yards on 15 carries for the Eagles yet he wasn’t the top rusher in the contest.
His teammate Kaunas had just four touches in the game, but none going for shorter than 13 yards. After having gains of 42 and 37 yards ending with the one man he had to beat coming up with touchdown-saving tackles, he saved his best for last. His longest gain of the night was a 61-yard touchdown run to end the game’s scoring.
He averaged more than 38 yards a carry, finishing with 155 yards.
Kramer and Kaunas combined for more rushing yards (277) than their team had altogether (264) in the game.
“We knew they would be a physical football team,” Hatter said. “That’s what we were trying to prepare for and honestly I felt like we just didn’t match that. That falls on my shoulders as a head coach to get these guys ready to go and try and prepare them the best we can for that. We just didn’t a good job with that — me personally and collectively as a staff.”
Regardless of only having one game under its belt heading into Friday, Eagles coach Cory Mabry wasn’t taking Midd-West lightly and it showed with his game plan all night.
“They had nice size up front. They had a tough fullback, quick running quarterback and a tailback that scared me too,” he said. “I thought they had a lot of weapons. We’re not a real big team, weight wise. We have a couple of nice sized kids, but they were bigger than us and that scared me.”
Midd-West (1-1) travels to Shenandoah Valley Sept. 14.
Blue Mountain 35, Midd-West 0
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Blue Mountain 14 0 7 14–35
Home 0 0 0 0–0
B–Ben Kramer 2 run (Blake Lipko kick), 5:54.
B–Jason Dean 29 pass from Hunter Luckenbill (Lipko kick), 3:59.
B– Kramer 50 run (Lipko kick), 10:10.
B– Brandon Becker 8 pass from Luckenbill (Lipko kick), 11:52.
B– Brent Kaunas 61 run (Lipko kick), 4:35.
First downs 8 5
Total yards 322 110
Rushes-yards 27-264 43-73
Yards passing 59 37
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 3-9-0 4-10-1
Punts-avg. 4-22.75 4-34.75
Fumbles-lost 1-1 5-1
Penalties-yards 6-77 4-36
RUSHING: B– Kramer 15-122 2 TDs; Becker 3-(-11); Kraunas 4-155 TD; Justin ege 2-6; Luckenbill 2-(-5); Gavin Bartholomew 1-0; MW– Trey Lauver 3-7; Marc Piccioni 21-61; Kameron Kline 9-9; Tyler Bishop 3=15; Thane Treaster 1-4; Hunter Hunsberger 3-6; Oakley Bennett 3-(-29).
PASSING: B– Luckenbill 3-9-0-58 2 TDs; MW– Piccioni 4-10-1-37.
RECEIVING: B– Jason Dean 1-29 TD; ege 1-20; Becker 1-8; MW–Gabe Regester 1-4; Owen Zechman 1-5; Kline 1-0; Christian Levan 1-28.