Golden Eagles shut out Rebels
In the battle for the Lincoln Conference title it was the Mercer County defense that decided it. Mercer County shutout the powerful Rebels of Stark County 21-0. The Golden Eagles effectively won the conference title with the victory erasing two years of futility against the Rebels.
The Golden Eagles improved to 7-0 with the victory while Stark County fell to 5-2.
The first big blow to the Rebels came midway through the first quarrier. Golden Eagle quarterback Tanner Matlick completed a 50 yard pass to Payton Holmes down to the Stark County 30 yard line. Four plays later Matlick would score on a six yard run. The Golden Eagles led 6-0 with 4:09 remaining in the first quarter.
The Golden Eagles appeared to be on the verge of scoring again near the end of the fourth quarter. Matlick hooked up with Tyson
Nylin on a 69 yard pass down to the Rebels two yard line.
Nylin said, "I ran a circle route and was wide open. I tried to score but I just ran out of gas."
The Rebel line held though keeping the Golden Eagles out of the endzone.
The Rebels took over possession at their own five yard line but could't make the push for the first down. Chris Hedrick pieced up a big sack in the series forcing the Rebels back to the two yard line where they would be forced to punt.
Stark County didn't pick up a first down on their first five possessions of the game.
Mercer County took possession after the punt at the Rebels 25 yard line. Four plays later Morford pushed the ball into the endzone on a five yard run. Matlick's conversion run game the Golden Eagles a 14-0 lead with 6:58 remaining in the half.
Stark County quarterback Justin Kohler finally got the Rebel offense moving completing a 19 yard pass to Brandon Lee but the Rebels were soon forced to punt.
On Stark County's next possession they stated moving the ball downfield through the air. Kohler connected with Bryce Paxson on passes of 11 and w9 yards down to the Mercer County 20 yard line.
Nylin came up with the interception in the endzone for Mercer County to halt Rebel drive. "We were just playing our cover two and made I made a play on the ball," said Nylin.
Stark County had one more chance to score near the end of the half. Kohler connected on passes to Paxson and Lee on a drive down to the Mercer County 12 yard line. But the Golden Eagle defense stiffened again and held the Rebels scoreless as the second quarter ended.
In the second half Kohler again took to the air with little success. A Rebel punt pinned Mercer County on its one yard line.
The two teams played a game of field position throughout the third quarter Stark County had an apparent touchdown called back at one point.
Throughout the first few minutes of the fourth quarter Stark County started a 21 play drive down to the Mercer County one yard line. The Golden Eagles committed a couple of penalties on the drive to keep it alive for the Rebels.
But in the end the Golden Eagle defense kept the Rebel offense out of the endzone. The Golden Eagles took over on downs at the one yard line with 6:34 remaining in the game.
Derrick Morford came up big on a third down and nine play. From the Golden Eagles one yard line he rushed 40 yards out to the 41 yard line. He hit again on an 18 yard run down to the Stark County 41 yard line. "We had to get our offense some room," said Morford. "It was just power football. I got through one defender and turned it on and was off to the races."
Morford led the Golden Eagles in rushing with 129 yards on 25 carries. The Golden Eagles rushed for 199 yards on 42 carries.
The Rebels Dalton Miller, who entered the contest with more than 800 yards rushing and averaging more than 13 yards per carry was held to 43 yards on 16 carries. The Rebels ran for 65 yards on 34 attempts.
Matlick would scored the final touchdown of the game on a 32 yard run with 2:56 left in the contest. It was an eight play 99 yard drive that effectively closed out the Rebels hopes for victory.
Matlick said, "Our defense rose to the occasion and shut them out. It was pretty tough out their. Our offensive line did a good job of picking up the pressure. Stark County's a great team. We knew we had to play well to win."
Matlick finished the night with 41 yard rushing and two touchdowns. He completed only four of his 12 pass attempts but for 166 yards.