Golden Eagles soar in blowout win

Robert Blackford/Editor
Austin Skiles runs for 29 of his 140 yards against Ridgewood.

The Golden Eagles football team’s second victory of the season came a lot easier that the first one.

The Mercer County defense dominated and the offense scored 41 points in the 41-0 victory over the Ridgewood Spartans to improve to 2-0 on the season.

The Mercer County defense went to work early as C.J. DeSpain recovered a Spartan fumble at the Spartans’ 16-yard lime. Three plays later Cameron Muske recovered a Mercer County fumble in the endzone for the Golden Eagles first touchdown. Mercer County went ahead 6-0 with 8:31 remaining in the first quarter.

Muske said, “I was blocking. I looked down and there it was. Maybe it was ‘heads up’ I don’t know.”

After the defense forced a three and out Mercer County scored again. Tanner Matlick connected on 38-yard pass to Michael McClellan on third down and nine play. This set up a six yard touchdown pass to Muske. Zach Nelson’s two point conversion run gave Mercer County the 14-0 lead.

Mercer County offense seem poised to run away with the game at this point but let several opportunities slip away in the second quarter and led 14-0  at the half. The Golden Eagle defense held the Spartan offense in check throughout the half though.

In the second half it was the Mercer County defense again that forced a turnover handing the offense the ball at the Spartans’ 30-yard line. Austin Skiles went to work with runs of 11 and 19 yards for the score. Mercer County took a 21-0 lead with 8:56 remaining.

“I had something to prove after last week,” said Skiles. Skiles injured an ankle in the first game and didn’t play in the second half. “People said I was too small to play running back. That motivated me. I wanted to come out and prove I could play.” Skiles gained 140 yards on the ground and scored two touchdowns.

Nelson stopped the next Spartan drive with an interception handing the ball over to the offense at the Golden Eagles 46-yard line. “We were in “Amigo.” We went over the play in practice. I jumped it. I was setting right there for the pass.”

Skiles went to work on the ground with runs of 23 and 11 yards . Michael McClellan scored on a 20-yard run to give the Golden Eagles a 28-0 lead.

Ridgewood turned the ball over on downs during its next drive. Tanner Matlick quickly connected with Tanner Benson for a 55-yard touchdown pass giving Mercer County a 35-0 lead.

Matlick said after the game that he definitely felt more comfortable at the quarterback position in the second game of the season. “I was performing at my highest potential and got it done. We lit a fire under the line and we could run the ball in the second half.”

Matlick completed seven of his seventeen pass attempts for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

The Mercer County offensive line gave McClellan and Skiles the holes then needed on the next drive. The pair rushed for a combined 83 yards culminating with Skiles 30-yard touchdown run to give Mercer County a 41-0 lead.