The Mount Gilead football team celebrated its new football field in style, earning a 42-6 win over visiting schedule in their first game on the revamped field.
While the team did have some second-quarter issues due to a trio of turnovers, they mostly dominated the game in improving to 2-1.
“First of all, isn’t this beautiful?” said MG head coach Mike Reid of the field. “A huge thank you to the community, school board and superintendent for putting this together. The greatest part is that it’s not 100 percent perfect yet, but still a zillion times better than last year. The kids love it.”
Reid loved his team’s play in the opening period. MG opened the game by forcing a three-and-out to get the ball on their own 25 and wasted no time in eating up those 75 yards to the end zone. Two runs by Garrett George netted 11 yards and Owen High covered 10 more with a run. George then broke one 45 yards to the Comet nine, leading to a Matthew Bland scramble for six points. Bland added a two-point conversion to stake the team to an 8-0 lead after four minutes has elapsed.
After the defense forced another three-and-out, MG scored again when Bland hit High for a 32-yard touchdown pass.
Trailing 14-0, Elgin finally got something going on offensively, moving the ball from their 30 to the Indian 28 thanks to a strong running game. However, the Indian defense was able to hold firm to force a turnover on downs.
Mount Gilead would turn the ball over on their next two possessions, though, and Elgin was able to take advantage with a long run by Quentin Harris to get within a 14-6 margin. The Indians would recover, though, getting a 44-yard touchdown pass from Bland to High to lead 22-6 with 2:12 in the quarter, which is how it would stay going into the half.
Reid felt that, other than a pair of picks, the passing game worked well for his team against Elgin.
“How about some of those catches Owen was making,” said Reid of his wide receiver. “Matt Bland is a wide receiver who is playing quarterback. It’s just a learning process. Week-in and week-out, he works hard. The offensive line just got after it.”
Reid noted that his goal was to get the team refocused for the second half, as they committed their third turnover of the second quarter in the final minute of action.
“The halftime adjustment was just calming everyone down,” he said. “We were a little over-hyped. We had three turnovers and were still ahead at halftime and that doesn’t usually happen.”
That adjustment worked out well for the Indians, who put the game away in the third quarter with two touchdowns in as many possessions. With the team facing second-and-17 from midfield after a holding call on the half-opening drive, Bland used his legs to do the distance and then completed a pass to Cam Vickers for a two-point conversion to make the score 28-6.
MG then forced a quick punt and quickly moved from Elgin’s 49 to the 25 on a 24-yard pass from Bland to High. Six plays later, George would score on a four-yard run to make it a 36-6 with 3:25 left in the third, while also causing a running clock due to the 30-point margin.
The Indians would score once more in the fourth quarter on an 11-play drive that ate up nearly eight minutes. George did the honors again, taking the ball in from the Elgin seven to provide his team’s final margin of victory.
George totaled 203 yards on the ground, while Bland added 151 rushing yards and also completed 6-of-10 passes for an additional 115. Owen High had 100 of those yards on three catches, while Logan High added a pair of receptions for 10 yards.
Now, the Indians will open conference play against 2-1 Loudonville, who will be playing their first ever KMAC game after joining the conference in football.
“Loudonville played an incredible schedule last year,” said Reid. “They’re a hard-nosed team. They have a veteran team with some big fellows. It’ll be real challenge.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS