The battle of the West Sequoia League’s two winless teams took place at Minarets last Friday with the Mustangs (1-8, 1-3 WSL) defeating Parlier (0-9, 0-4 WSL) 30-14.
Mustang QB Jacob Cullen went 12 of 27 for 252 yards including a 68-yard scoring strike to sophomore Aaron Hall.
The Mustangs wasted little time scoring 16 points in the first quarter, a season high in the first eight minutes of play. Minarets ended the first frame up 16-8 and never looked back, adding one more score in the second quarter to take a 22-14 lead into the half.
Both teams failed to score in the third period, exchanging turnovers, but the Mustangs defense stepped up in the second half, blanking the Pan thers and sending them home still in search of a win on the season. Defense was the story in the second half as the Mustangs bent a bit but refused to break. Even after losing senior Noah Fulton to a broken collar bone, Minarets played their best ball of the season, making several outstanding defensive stops in the final 16 minutes on their way to the first win of the 2016 season.
The defense sacked Parlier quarterback James Rodriquez nine times in the game, dropping the QB for 50 yards in loss yardage. Juniors Payton Phillips and Jesson Cerenio each recorded two while Elias Graham and Grant Denny had 1.5 each. Cullen and senior Jacob Walker also got in the action, each with one sack. Rodriquez was scrambling as Cullen has most of the season. Phillips led the team with 14 tackles, a season high, including three solo tackles. Hall added another ten, five being solo efforts.
Winning the turnover battle was bound to be the difference in this game and the Mustangs had their best performance to date, recording three interceptions, two by Hall and one by Drew Robertson, and forcing two fumbles. Tyson Ellis and Phillips each caused fumbles for the Panthers with Phillips recovering one.
The Mustangs scored their first kickoff return for a touchdown on the season, an 86-yard return by Robertson which brought the Mustang faithful to their feet. Minarets scored on the ground and in the air, spreading the ball around as six Mustangs ran the ball. The Mustangs had 163 yards on 28 carries. Cullen led all rushers with 85 yards on 11 carries including one touchdown run. Senior Michael Rendon also scored, rushing on his way to 42 yards on the ground with nine carries.
“The whole team played four full quarters of football and good things happen when you play hard,” Head Coach Becher Marr said. “Drew Robertson had a big kickoff return for a TD and an interception on defense. Payton Phillips had two tackles for losses and two sacks which really helped on defense. The only low point was losing Noah Fulton to a broken collar bone, he has been a great defensive end and receiver for us.”
With one in the win column it’s time to work on building a streak to continue into next season, and the Mustangs have a great chance at another win as they travel to Laton in the Battle of Mustangs on Friday. Laton has yet to win a game. At 0-9 the Laton Mustangs are doing their best to field a team as the season comes to a close. Minarets owns the upper hand on paper, scoring 16 points a game compared to Laton’s five points per contest. Again, securing the ball will be the difference as the Mustangs look to stay in the positive column in turnovers. This is the Mustangs’ last game on the season, and what better way to end it then with back-to-back wins. Game time is scheduled 7:30 p.m. for varsity, 5:30 p.m. for JV.