Mustangs outlast Hawks, 26-13

Published 11:13 pm Friday, October 20, 2017

WEST ORANGE — For the first time in a long time, the West Orange-Stark Mustangs had their mettle tested in District 12-4A Division II action Friday night at Hooks Stadium.

WO-S came out flat on Homecoming night but the two-time defending Class 4A Division II state champion Mustangs had enough in them to turn back the Hardin-Jefferson Hawks 26-13.

The Mustangs (6-0, 2-0), who ran their state-leading win streak to 33 games, made a slew of mistakes while the Hawks (1-3, 0-1) competed hard and prepared well for the Mustangs during their bye week.

The Mustangs finished with 242 total yards but once again had bad snap issues as the ball sailed past quarterback Chaka Watson’s head four times for a loss of 63 yards.

“We got the win but our kids just didn’t show up tonight,” said Mustang coach Cornel Thompson. “It seem they were more concerned about the dance. It’s the worst game we’ve played in a long, long time. We’ve got a bye week next week, so we’ve got a lot of work to do. We struggled at times in all phases of the game. We still can’t get our snaps right, we’re giving up big plays on defense and our kicking game continues to struggle. We’ve got to work on improving in all areas.”

The Mustang defense allowed the Hawks 210 yards.

Mustang running back Kayven Cooper rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Watson zipped for 93 yards on 16 carries, rushing for a score while passing for another.

H-J quarterback Brayden Pelt completed 10-of-19 passes for 103 yards and a score but was picked off twice. Back Mason Murray had 79 yards on four carries, including a long touchdown run.

“A win is still a win and we’ve got to move on from this because it’s just going to get tougher down the road,” said Thompson. “Give H-J kids some credit, they came out here and played extremely hard. They made some good plays here and they are going to compete the rest of the way.”

The Mustangs cashed in on a H-J turnover to start the second half.
WO-S defensive back Blake Robinson picked off a Pelt pass at the Mustang 44 with 8:44 in the third.
On the very next play, Cooper, who was stuffed during the first half, hit left tackle and then hit the left sideline for a 56-yard touchdown scamper, putting the Mustangs up 14-6 with 8:33 in the third.
WO-S took advantage of a short field to score again late in the third quarter.
Taking over at the H-J 44 with 2:03 in the quarter, the Mustangs scored four plays later.
Justin Sibley had a big 13 yard run to the 31. Watson connected with tight end Kaleb Ramsey on a 15-yard pass along the right side to the 11 and two plays later Cooper found the end zone again, going off right tackle and bolting in for a 11-yard score. The point-after kick was no good but WO-S led 20-6 with 0:51 in the third.
The Hawks, however, had a fast response when Murray shredded through the Mustang defense for a 75-yard jaunt to the end zone. Kicker Garrett Hampton booted the extra-point, trimming it to 20-13 with 0:35 in the third.
After H-J was forced to punt from their 1, Mustang return man Jarron Morris brought a punt return back 20 yards to the H-J 10. Cooper bruised his way on a nine-yard run to the 1 and Watson capped it with a one-yard touchdown sneak. The extra-point boot was no good but the Mustangs grabbed a 26-14 edge with 7:14 remaining.
The Mustangs coughed the ball over after a bad snap with 2:49 remaining as H-J took over at the WO-S 26. However, the Mustang defense held firm and on fourth-and-10 from the 26, Pelt dropped back, looking for a receiver in the end zone but Mustang Ja’Vonn Ross picked him off at the 2 and returned it to the WO-S 27.
It was a rough first half as the Mustangs made a slew of mistakes but still led 7-6 at intermission.
The Mustangs had 114 total yards in the half while H-J had 107.
The Mustangs had a turnover and two bad snaps that stalled drives that netted a minus 35 yards.
Watson rushed for 98 first-half yards on 10 carries and tossed a touchdown pass while Pelt was 5-for-6 for 95 yards and also had a TD pass.
Watson got picked off by H-J’s Blake Cruse at the H-J 38 on the first series of the night and he returned it to the WO-S 49.
The Mustangs promptly held H-J on downs when they stopped fullback Brayden Pomirko on fourth-and-4 from the 43.
WO-S drove to the H-J 19 with 3:19 in the first quarter but Watson was brought down for a four-yard loss on fourth down.
The Hawks got on the board first early in the second quarter, going 67 yards in three plays thanks to two big pass plays.
On second-and-15 Pelt hooked up with receiver Dylin Duhon-Walker for a 45-yard gain all the way down to the Mustang 27. On the next play, Pelt had a perfect strike to Mason Murray just inside the right side of the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown strike. Mustang Jarron Morris blocked the extra-point attempt as H-J led 6-0 with 8:48 in the half.
The Mustangs got all the way down to the H-J 10 thanks to the legs of Watson, who had a 34-yard burst off the right side. However, a bad snap moved the ball all the way back to the H-J 30 and the Hawks held the Mustangs on downs.
WO-S was able to take advantage of a H-J miscue to get some points on the board. Pelt fumbled the ball over to Mustang defensive end Herzel Washington at the H-J 27 with 3:13 in the half.
Watson went into the end zone for what would have been a 26-yard touchdown run but it was called back due to holding. The Mustangs bounced back two plays later when Watson rolled right and found back Justin Sibley at the right pylon for a 21-yard touchdown pass.
Chad Dallas booted the extra-point to put the Mustangs up 7-6 with 1:50 in the half.

WO-S 26
H-J 13

WO-S    0       7       13      6— 26
H-J             0       6       7       0 —13

Scoring summary
H-J: Mason Murray 27 pass from Brayden Pelt. Kick blocked.
WO-S: Justin Sibley 21 pass from Chaka Watson. Chad Dallas kick.
WO-S: Kayven Cooper 56 run. Dallas kick.
WO-S: Cooper 11 run. Kick failed.
H-J: Mason Murray 75 run. Garrett Hampton kick.
WO-S: Watson 1 run. Kick failed.

WO-S    H-J
First downs             14              6
Rushes-yards    39-174 23-107
Passing         68            103
Total yards             242             210
Comp-Att-Int    6-13-1           10-19-2
Fumbles-Lost    5-1            2-1
Penalties-yards         4-30 6-51
Rushing:  WO-S, Kavyn Cooper 11-112, Chaka Watson 16-93, Justin Sibley 3-26, Kedrick Harris 2-9, Renaldo Rose 1-3, Jarron Morris 2-(-6), Team 4-(-63); H-J, Mason Murray 4-79, Blake Cruse 8-16, Brayden Pelt 9-11, Brayden Pomirko 1-1, Christian Bowie 1-0.

Passing: WO-S, Chaka Watson 6-13-1 68; H-J, Brayden Pelt 10-19-2 103.

Receiving: WO-S: Kaleb Ramsey 2-20, Jarron Morris 2-19, Justin Sibley 1-21, Diondre Hawthorne 1-8; H-J: Izaak Whitman 3-13, Trystain Conner 2-22,Mason Murray 2-19, Dylin Durham-Walker 1-45, Blake Cruse 1-5, Chris Walters 1-(-1)