Mustangs rip Colts
BEAVER SPRINGS — In a game all about the horses, it was fitting that the contest’s brightest star collected a triple crown.
Midd-West’s Hunter Wolfley scored four touchdowns — at least one each via return, reception and rush — as the Mustangs stampeded to a 39-6 opening night win over the visiting Marian Catholic Colts.
“I’m glad he’s on our team,” Midd-West coach Brad Hatter said of his tailback. “I thank God every day for that. I mean, he’s just a special kid, a special athlete and has some skills that not many other people have. We’re thankful for the things he does for us and our program.”
Wolfley’s big night could have been a lot bigger, too, had two other apparent end zone trips of his not been negated by penalties — one on a rush and the other on the return of a Marian Catholic safety kick.
The scores erased by yellow flags proved to be part of Midd-West’s early frustration as despite boasting a decisive field position advantage, blocking a punt and a defense that racked up tackles for losses in the first quarter, all the points the Mustangs could manage came on a 32-yard field goal by Carter Sauer to put the home team ahead 3-0.
On the first play of the second quarter, after taking consecutive false start penalties and backing up to their own 2 as a result, the Colts’
offensive woes continued as tailback Xavier Ocasio was smothered in the end zone by seemingly half the Mustang roster for a safety and a 5-0 lead. The struggle to run the ball was a scene that unfolded early and often for Marian Catholic.
“I thought their line took it to our line,” Marian Catholic coach Pat Morgans said. “So we’re going to get better there.”
And despite Wolfley’s apparent touchdown on the ensuing safety kick return being wiped out by a flag for blocking in the back, it was only a harbinger of things to come.
After Midd-West’s defense again had forced a Colts punt, Wolfley grabbed the ball, wove in and out of traffic and found the end zone on a 69-yard punt return TD — the first of his scores that would remain on the board. The try for two failed, making it a 12-0 Midd-West advantage.
Marian Catholic was clearly outgunned physically during most of the game, but the Colts showed heart. Their lone tally of the night came on a 14-yard pass from quarterback Matt Rehrig to Luis Terion in the second quarter. The extra point try missed wide left, though, leaving the score at 12-6.
But it didn’t take Wolfley and the Mustangs long to respond. Running the no-huddle offense, quarterback Oakley Bennett fired a strike to Gabe Regester over the middle for 33 yards to the 20. Two plays later, Bennett connected with —who else? — Wolfley for a 16-yard scoring hookup. Midd-West again went for two unsuccessfully, keeping the score at 18-6.
“You couldn’t ask for much more from him,” Hatter said of his quarterback. “He made the throws. Our offensive line did a heck of a job protecting him and he stood in the pocket and made throws and ran the offense the way we expected him to.”
Marian Catholic’s inability to move the ball proved costly late in the half as a three-and-out, coupled with the Mustangs utilizing their remaining timeouts to get the ball one more time before the gun, allowed Midd-West to increase its lead.
The three-play quick strike ended when Register snatched a pass from Bennett and beat everyone to the right corner on a 36-yard touchdown catch-and-run that made it 25-6 at halftime.
Having already visited the end zone twice, and with Midd-West looking to bleed the clock, Wolfley showcased his running ability in the second half. In the third quarter, he took a handoff 28 yards to pay dirt. And in the final stanza, on his last touch of the night, he had a grand finale in store as he turned the left edge and blazed down the sideline for a 52-yard touchdown that set the final.
“We gotta play four quarters,” Morgans said. “And we can’t give up the big plays.”