For one of those statement victories, Mallard Creeks 38-21 thumping of the Hough Huskies on Friday night was a little rough around the edges.
But the No.1-ranked Mavericks (7-0, 3-0 MECKA8 4A) used a stifling defense to overcome 18 penalties and a couple of turnovers to fight off the No.3 Huskies (6-1, 2-1), the latest challenger to their dominance in conference play, at Mallard Creek.
I think our kids had a little chip on their shoulder tonight, Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri said. Weve heard a lot this year about Hough and how good they are, but were playing good ball, too. And were pretty good at responding to big games.
The Mavericks got a big game from their defense, which scored twice on a 15-yard return of a fumbled lateral by Nafees Lyon on the first play of the game, and a 90-yard interception return in the third quarter by linebacker Tony Reid, who also set up another score with a recovery of a muffed punt.
Everything counts defense, special teams, Reid said. We just went out and made plays.
Mallard Creek running back Jaylen Samuels was the offensive playmaker, carrying 13 times for 131 yards and three touchdowns. Senior running back Lawrence Pittman rushed 15 times for 97 yards.
But that chip that Palmieri referred to sometimes turned into chippiness, as the Mavericks racked up 205 yards in penalties, almost half of them in a bizarre fourth quarter in which Mallard Creek yielded two safeties.
Im glad we worked through the penalties, but were not a team that gets a lot of penalties, so thats a concern, Palmieri said. We did put a pretty physical game on them.
But Hough never went away, even after a disastrous start that had Mallard Creek in front 10-0 barely three minutes into the game. After Lyon picked up the easy score when the Huskies Carucker bobbled a lateral from quarterback Josh Stilley, the Mavericks added a 33-yard field goal by Nat Tilque after another fumble recovery.
Mallard Creek added a 31-yard scoring run by Samuels to lead 17-0 after one quarter before Hough scoed on a 28-yard field goal by Tim Gawert early in the second quarter. Samuels scored on a 1-yard run by Samuels with 7:16 on the clock for a 24-3 halftime lead.
But the Huskies struck quickly after a deflection and interception by cornerback Anthony Sherrill on the third play of the second half. Tylan Murrell scored on a 3-yard run to trim the lead to 24-10, and the Huskies defense forced a punt by the Mavericks on the next possession. But Reids fumble recovery set up a 14-yard touchdown run by Samuels with 6:44 left in the quarter for a 31-10 lead.
Reids 90-yard interception return for a score gave the Mavericks their largest lead at 38-10 late in the third quarter. But Hough senior quarterback Josh Stilley, who completed 16-of-31 passes for 261 yards (4 interceptions), kept the Huskies knocking at the door for the rest of the game.
Hough scored the games last 11 points, on a 5-yard run by Murrell to end a 9-play, 90 yard drive, and on a pair of safeties one on a bad snap from center on a punt attempt by the Mavericks and the other when sophomore quarterback James Smith fumbled through his own end zone.
Mallard Creek is at Vance and Hough is at A.L. Brown on Friday.
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