Mifflinburg downs Central Mountain
MILL HALL — When Mifflinburg invaded Don Malinak Stadium for a football battle with Central Mountain Friday night, two things were certain.
First of all, one of the two teams was going to win its second game of the season as both teams entered the fray at 1-5.
Secondly, the Wildcats were assured of winning the game as both teams claim that animal as its mascot.
Fortunately for Mifflinburg, the battle of the Wildcats belonged to them as they spotted Central Mountain a touchdown to begin the scoring before ripping off 35 unanswered points to cruise to a 42-20 win over the Class AAAA ‘Cats.
Most coaches will tell you that a complete game will be one that has major contributions from all three aspects of the game, offense, defense and special teams, and Mifflinburg made the most of all three areas.
“One of the things I said earlier in the week as far as keys to the game was causing turnovers and minimizing mistakes, but we needed those things from all three units,” said Mifflinburg head coach Jason Dressler. “We needed that type of performance from everybody and we certainly got that tonight.”
After surrendering a touchdown to the host Wildcats in the first period, Mifflinburg started its run when Eric Stroup ripped off a 10-yard run to pay dirt. For the game, Stroup led all rushers with 133 yards on 16 carries.
Continuing its assault on the scoreboard, Mifflinburg put three more scores on their side of the board when Brian Zimmerman got behind the CM secondary to haul in a 53-yard scoring aerial from Jordan Wagner, Tristan Martin came up with a huge special teams play when he returned a punt 72 yards to the house before Zimmerman completed the scoring in the first half with a 95-yard fumble return to stop a CM drive just short of the goal line.
Coming into the game, Dressler felt that one of the keys was a good game from the guys up front on the offensive line.
“That was part of our game plan,” Dressler said of unleashing the running game. “We felt quite confident in the guys up front and we challenged them this week. We put it on them to allow us to move the ball and we spread things around by going outside as well as inside. We just wanted to get a good rhythm going and they did a good job with that.”
If there was one play that stood in the Miff rampage it could have been the return by Martin who hauled in the punt on his own 28-yard line, outraced three defenders to the sidelines and proceeded to break several tackles, including twisting out of a final CM attempt inside the 5-yard line.
“That return was just great,” praised Dressler. “He just made things happen. When you put the ball in the hands of an athlete you just want them to do their thing. Martin did it first and Zimmerman followed with his fumble recovery. Those guys were just all over the field tonight. The kids just did a phenomenal job of making plays tonight when they needed to before just hanging tough for the entire four quarters.”
Mifflinburg completed its five touchdown spurt to begin the second half when Martin was on the receiving end of a 5-yard pass from Wagner, but that is when Central Mountain put together a couple of drives that resulted in a pair of scores to make things interesting with a minute left in the third period.
“We got a little sloppy during that stretch with a few things and you could feel the momentum we had built slipping away,” Dressler said. “We kept talking to the kids on the sideline and reminding that this isn’t going to happen. We told them that we might bend a little bit, but the last thing we were going to do was break. We told them that if they keep hustling and playing hard that we would get back into it and they certainly did that.”
Still holding onto a 35-20 lead, the ‘Cats put the lid on the win as Stroup capped a 6-play 51-yard drive for the game’s final score.
So at 2-5 with three games left, what did the victory mean to Mifflinburg?
“We just told the guys that we still have three games left and the season is far from over,” Dressler said. “We just have to keep chugging and plugging away to take care of business, and in the end, our goal is to wind up five-hundred to see where that puts us. I was really proud of their effort tonight.”
MIFF 7 21 7 7 — 42
CM 6 0 14 0 — 20
CM — Logan Bathurst 4 run. (kick failed). 4:08
M — Eric Stroup 10 run (Ryan Oliver kick) 1:13
M — Brian Zimmerman 53 pass from Jordan Wagner (Oliver kick) 8:30
M — Tristan Martin 72 punt return. (Oliver kick) 6:40
M — Zimmerman 95 fumble return. (Oliver kick) :35
M — Martin 5 pass from Wagner. (Oliver kick) 9:17
CM — Bryce Bitner 1 run (Justin Neff Rush) 7:17
CM — Bitner 5 run (kick failed) 1:02
M — Stroup 3 run (Oliver kick) 3:40
Team Statistics MIFF CM
First Downs 14 21
Rushes-Yards 36-250 68-318
Passing Yards 94 106
Passing 3-8-1 4-13-1
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-2
Penalties-Yards 6-50 7-50
MIFF: Eric Stroup 16-133, 2 TDs; Brayden Pierce 14-84, Tyler Stolzfus 2-22, Clayton Sheesley 3-6, Tristan Martin 1-5.
CM: Hunter Weaver 27-122, Logan Bathurst 13-63, 1 TD; Bryce Mansfield 5-56, Bryce Bitner 8-27, 2 TDs; Justin Neff 14-46, Tyler Zablocki 1-4.
MIFF: Jordan Wagner 3-8, 94 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception.
CM: Bryce Bitner 4-13, 106 yards, 1 interception.
MIFF: Brian Zimmerman 2-89, 1 TD; Tristan Martin 1-5.
CM: Justin Neff 1-57, Calvin Butler 2-39, J. J. Harris 1-10.
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