After breaking a 24-game losing streak against Elgin last week, the Mount Gilead football team has begun another streak — this time, a winning one.
The Indians battled back from an early deficit to defeat visiting Danville by a 24-7 margin Friday to claim their second straight win and improve to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in KMAC play.
“They’ve done a great job,” said head coach Phil Mauro. “We’ve got great team chemistry right now.”
That chemistry allowed them to endure a long Danville touchdown drive to open the game. The Blue Devils were able to absorb four penalties to convert on a pair of fourth downs, including a 22-yard scoring pass from Charlie Cook to Langdon Johnson on fourth-and-three, and lead 7-0 after five minutes had been played.
MG punted on their first possession and Danville was able to quickly move the ball from their 41 into Indian territory, but fumbled away the ball. Joel Butterman completed a pass of 14 yards to Owen Blanton and one for 10 yards to Nate Rogers, as the team advanced to the Blue Devil five, but the team missed a field goal to remain scoreless in the early stages of the second quarter.
It wouldn’t take long for the team to tie things up, though. Danville would commit their second fumble of the game and MG would take possession on the Blue Devil 16. After a short first down gain, Butterman hit Owen High for 13 yards. Brady Mermann went the rest of the way for a touchdown and Garrett Lamb-Hart added the extra point.
Neither team scored again in the first half, but the Indians opened the second half with points. Taking the ball on their 33, the team got 12 from Mermann on their first play. A 38-yard scramble by Butterman moved it deep into Danville territory and the team was rolling until a pair of penalties moved the ball from the Blue Devil one back to the 21. MG got a 16-yard run from Mermann to make it to the five and Lamb-Hart would kick a 23-yard field goal to put the Indians up 10-7.
Mount Gilead would force a punt, but a Butterman interception set Danville up with great position on the home team’s 19 with 1:41 left in the third. However, MG’s defense stepped up huge, forcing a seven-yard loss on first down and not letting their opponents recover as they would regain the ball on downs.
“That stop after a turnover was huge,” said Mauro. “We’ve pretty much been a second half ballclub. Our conditioning is good and the kids believe what we’re doing. We got good pressure, the d-line played well and it was a great team win.”
That stop sparked the Indians offensively. Mermann immediately busted a 25-yard run and Butterman then hit Blanton for 35 to place the ball on the Danville 18. Three plays later, Rogers scored on a one-yard run and MG led 17-7 with just over 10 minutes left in the game.
Five minutes later, it was 24-7. Carson Vanhoose picked off a Danville pass to set his team up on the Blue Devil 41 and five Mermann carries put it on the five, where Rogers ran it in from to add to the Indian lead.
Two more defensive stops — one on a drive that started on the MG 17 — and the Indians had their second straight win; their first two-game streak since Sept. 2 and 9 of 2016.
Mauro stated after the game that he loves the momentum and confidence his team is showing now that they’ve had a taste of success.
“It’s been a huge thing,” he said. “They’ve all bought in. They’re ready to change the narrative — that’s for sure.”
Mermann finished with 124 rushing yards, while Butterman added 103 through the air and 51 on the ground. Blanton, Rogers and High all caught two passes for the team.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS