Midland No Match for Rector Cougars
The Rector Cougars notched their fourth win of the season Friday night, beating the Midland Mustangs 38-0 in the annual senior night contest at Paul Temerian Field. The victory also cemented a spot in the postseason bracket for the boys in blue, as they'll look forward to a playoff appearance in early November.
Prior to the start of the game, the members of the RHS class of 2019 were introduced and recognized. Included were football players Michael Davis, Kale Hardin, Evan Dooley, Zac McCluskey, Connor Austin and Conly Lockhart. Also recognized were cheerleaders Makenna Speer and Ashlyn Mills along with RHS band members Jade Green and Julie Walker.
Afterward, the partisan crowd was treated to a lopsided Rector win over Midland as they braved rainy conditions for the second week in a row.
The Mustangs would get first shot at the football Friday night, as Max Ford kicked off for Rector. On the first play senior Michael Davis dropped the Mustang ball carrier for a loss, with Trace Sanders making another big stop on second down. Ford and Parker Bucy combined for a stop on third down, forcing the Mustangs into a fourth-and-long.
Lining up to go for it, Midland quarterback Bobby McDaniel tried to draw the Cougar defense offsides, but instead was forced to take a timeout. Re-grouping, McDaniel called his own number on fourth down, but slipped on the wet turf and the ball went over on downs.
Ford got the nod on first down, and carried the ball about 11 yards to the Midland 39. Dooley got about a yard on the following play, and moments later broke free to carry the ball to the Mustang's 17 yard line.
Ford carried several defenders with him as he carried inside the five, with Dooley taking it to the one on second and goal. Cougar quarterback Parker Bucy capped the drive with a one yard touchdown run with 6:12 to go in the first quarter, giving the home team a 6-0 lead. Lining up to go for two, Dooley came up just short as the lead stood.
The Mustangs found some running room on the following drive, but fumbled the ball back to the Cougars near mid-field. But, the host team couldn't capitalize, as they fumbled it back to the Mustangs a short time later.
Neither team could find paydirt the remainder of the first quarter, with the Cougars striking again early in the second. The score came on a 54 yard touchdown run by Dooley, as he broke out of the pack and outran the Midland defenders to the end zone. Bucy then connected with Shannon Patterson for the two point conversion, and the Cougar lead stood at 14-0 with 7:34 left in the first half.
Following the kickoff by Ford, the Rector defense again rose to the occasion and forced the Mustangs to punt. Taking over at their own 47, the Cougars got another long touchdown run from Dooley on first down as he sprinted 53 yards for his second score. The senior RB then added the two point conversion, with the Cougars extending the lead to 22-0.
Getting a stop on the following Midland series, the hosts looked to extend the lead late in the first half. Going to the passing game, the Cougars took three shots at the end zone but couldn't connect on pass attempts to Ford and Patterson. With time running down in the second, Bucy was picked-off by a Mustang defender, who ran it back for a touchdown, but the celebration was short-lived as the run was called back on a penalty flag as the first half drew to a close with the Cougars leading 22-0.
Getting the ball first in the second half, the Cougars burned up much of the third quarter moving the football downfield. As time ran down in the frame, they were faced with a fourth and goal. On the first play of the fourth quarter Bucy scored on a short run, then hit Clayton Morgan for the two point conversion pass to extend the Rector lead to 30-0.
The Cougar defense would force another Mustang turnover a short time later, as they gave it back to the offense on the 39 yard line.
Senior Kale Hardin would dominate the following drive, carrying the ball for several big gains as the Cougars moved deep into Mustang territory. Hardin capped the drive with a two yard TD at the 3:40 mark, with the clock running due to the mercy rule. Chris Hufty got the nod on the two point conversion, and was successful as the final score was set.
With the subs playing out the remainder, the game ended as Ben Owens dropped McDaniel for a sack and the horn sounded.
Following the contest, Coach David Hendrix reminded the team that they control their own destiny.
With two games to play, at Marked Tree and at McCrory, the squad earned a playoff spot—but will be looking to gain a better seeding.
“We found a way to win, that's all there is to it, we found a way,” Hendrix explained. “You know they took away a lot from what we've been doing recently, the past few weeks, and we were kind of limited. But, we got back to what we were used to doing—and what I've grown up doing, we smash-mouthed with them and just found a way to win, that was all there was to it.”
Although the Cougar defense, and special teams, held the Mustangs scoreless Hendrix felt there were some areas which still need to be addressed.
“Our defense is playing a whole lot better, but we gave up a few more yards than we wanted to,” he explained. “When you pitch a shut-out I know you shouldn't say that, but we gave up a few more yards than we should have tonight. And we've gotta go back and look at film and correct some of the things we did—especially in our pass coverage.”
With the win the Cougars move to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in conference play. They're currently in fourth in the 2A-3 conference, trailing Salem, EPC and Cross County although Rector does hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Thunderbirds. Rounding out the standings are Marked Tree, McCrory and Midland. The top five earn playoff spots, with the top three slated to host first round playoff games.
Friday night the Cougars will visit the Indians at Marked Tree, EPC travels to Salem as they will battle for the top spot and Cross County visits Midland while McCrory is idle. Rector will close out the season next week at McCrory as they take on the Jaguars on Friday, Nov. 2.