Returning home for the first time since they defeated the Middlesex Chargers in a convincing fashion week two, the Mustangs held on to win a squeaker at home against district rival Brentsville, 14-12 Saturday. The game ended up being exactly as Coach Horn had predicted, very physical, and very intense.
It truly was a tale of two halves as the Mustangs dominated the first half right from the start. Brentsville started with the ball, however, not for long as on the fourth play, Mustang senior cornerback Ben Griffin intercepted the pass, returning it 21 yards to the Mason 46-yard line. Yet despite the great field position the Mustang offense couldnít capitalize, as the Tiger defense proved to be large and physical.
Brentsville, receiving the ball following the turnover on downs, controlled the clock for most of the first quarter. However, their drive didnít amount to much due to strong defense from Mason juniors Kevin Kuhn and Chris Huffman.
Following the Brentsville punt to Masonís 21-yard line, the Mustangs showed the beginnings of a good drive in power runs from senior quarterback Matt Bond and junior tailback Eric Powell. But, an illegal motion penalty and a few incomplete passes were too much for the Mustangs to overcome and they were forced to punt.
Starting from their own 24-yard line, the Tigers resumed pounding the ball into the Mustang defense. Yet after gaining a first down on the first play of the second quarter, Brentsville returned to their ineffective passing game (1/3 for 1 yard, 1 interception at that point). On third down with 10:30 remaining in the half, Brentsville quarterback Sam Huff dropped back, only to pass up the middle and get picked off by Mason senior linebacker Joey Cohe. Cohe then followed a handfull of Mustang defenders, now blockers, 44-yards into the end zone for the first score of the afternoon. Griffin completed the scoring drive by making the extra point bringing the score to 7-0 in George Masonís favor.
On Brentsvilleís next position what seemed to be a response to the Mustang score ended with a fumble recovered by Cohe, after the defensive line pressured the quarterback out of the pocket. Mason was unable to move ball on the next drive, ending with the Bond punt being blocked. Brentsville, responding with 5 passing plays in the drive, only completed one and was set back by a sack from Kuhn, turned the ball over once again on downs. With one minute left in the half, on second down from the Mustang 41-yard line, Matt Bond dropped back and connected with Griffin on a 59-yard catch and run for the second Mustang touchdown. The extra point attempt by Griffin was good, making the score Mustangs 14, Tigers 0.
Brentsville then returned to their lackluster passing game, only to exhaust the clock on a dropped interception opportunity from no other than Griffin.
Mason, choosing to receive to begin the second half, fumbled on the kickoff and Brentsville began with the ball on the Mustang 39-yard line. Neither Brentsville, nor Mason could move the ball consistently, exchanging the possession back to Brentsville in the end. With the ball on the Mustang 46 the Tigers finally put a drive together, completing a 27-yard pass for a touchdown in the third quarter. After missing the extra point the score stood at 14-6 Mason.
The Mustangs responded to the score with tenacity, as they moved the ball consistently, gaining 30 yards in 5 plays. However, at the end of an 11-yard run from Powell, the ball was fumbled, and recovered by the Tigers. Brentsville, starting from its own 26-yard line, then marched 74-yards into the end zone taking up the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter. The touchdown was scored on fourth and goal from the one on a quarterback keeper from Huff. Having missed the first extra point, Brentsville opted to go for the two-point conversion. The Eaglesí attemptfailed as Bond came down with the ball rather than the intended receiver.
Following a squib kick, the Mustangs could only mount a seven-play drive, and were only able to burn 3 minutes off the clock. Bondís punt had Brentsville starting on its own 36-yard line with a minute left. On the second play of the drive Huff dropped back to pass, for the last time, and was picked off once again, this time by Matt Bond ensuring the Mustang victory. Bond then kneeled the ball twice, exhausting the clock, making the victory final.
Following the game, Coach Horn attributed the victory to the play of the defense. "Iím more comfortable with the defense on the field, they are more experienced, and smart football players". Defenders were shuffled in and out all game, due to the size of the Brentsville offense. Horn also said that the offense this year is very different than in years past, relying more on big plays than on consistent drives. Offensive coordinator Sonny Merchant agreed, "We executed well, a lot of credit should go to the offensive line, they did a great job communicating to me what was happening, making adjustments easier." Merchant also agreed with Horn in attributing the win to the defense, using the cliché "Offense wins games, defense wins championships."
Offensively, the Mustangs were led by Bond who had 93 yards passing on 9 attempts and 5 completions. Griffin accounted for all 5 of the receptions and one touchdown. Junior Dominic Clark led all rushers with 40 yards on 10 carries, followed by Bond with 15 yards on 5 carries, Powell with 12 yards on 4 carries, and Whittaker with 2 yards on one carry. The Mustangs continue their playoff hunt next week as they play the Clarke County Eagles for Homecoming at 2 on Saturday on the Jack Gambill fields.