Travis Landon of Crane fights for extra yardage in the Mustangs’ win over McKenzie. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)
By Randy Parks
The Crane Mustangs rolled up 567 yards of total offense, including 342 yards on the ground, on their way to a convincing 78-22 win over McKenzie on Friday, Sept. 14.
The Mustangs’ Tyler Opie had a banner day, catching three touchdown passes and rushing for three more, as well as recording a safety as the first half came to a close. He also threw for one score.
The Crane defense was a force throughout the game, holding the Eagles to 272 total yards, including a minus 13 on the ground.
McKenzie received the opening kickoff, and after picking up one first down, their next three plays resulted in a loss of eight yards and an incomplete pass. On fourth-and-long, the snap went over the punter’s head into the end zone, resulting in a safety and a 2-0 Crane lead.
The Mustangs returned the free kick to the Eagles’ 35 and the offense went right to work. Opie ran for a 6-yard gain, followed by a 19-yard run by Zalin Arritola. After an incomplete pass, Opie connected with Nic Nyman for a 10-yard TD pass. Opie ran in the 2-point conversion, and Crane led 10-0.
McKenzie fumbled on their very next offensive play and Crane recovered at the Eagles’ 39. Four plays later, Opie scored from five yards out and added another 2-point conversion to put the Mustangs up 18-0.
The Eagles finally got their offense moving and drove deep into Mustang territory before turning the ball over on downs at the Crane 11.
It took Crane only six plays to get into the end zone again, as Travis Landon hit Opie on a 32-yard halfback pass for the score. Opie again added the 2-point conversion for a 26-point lead.
McKenzie had to punt on their next possession and Crane moved the ball to the Eagles’ 24 before going out on downs.
On second-and-13, Landon picked off Victor Vidal’s pass, giving the Mustangs possession at the 45.
The Eagles took the ball back on the next play, however, as Opie’s pass was intercepted by Blake Anderson at the Crane 41.
Not to be outdone, Landon came up with his second pick on the very next play, giving Crane a first down at their own 23. The Mustangs drove the ball down to the Eagles’ 5-yard line, before two penalties took them back to the 29. Opie then pitched it to Nyman going right; Nyman stopped and threw it back to Opie down the left sideline for another Mustang score.
The Eagles answered with a 75-yard touchdown pass from Vidal to Anderson and a 2-point conversion.
The Eagles tried an onside kick, but the ball barely went a yard upfield where Crane’s Riley Joyce scooped it up and raced to the 4 before being caught from behind. Opie carried it in from there, and Crane led 38-8.
Vidal and Anderson hooked up on another long scoring play, this one covering 61 yards, on the Eagles’ next possession, cutting the lead to 22.
McKenzie recovered the ensuing onside kickoff, but Blaise Schulze came up with an interception to give Crane a first-and-10 at their own 21.
On fourth-and-four, Opie raced around the left side and went 73 yards for the score. Landon then added the 2-point conversion.
Crane’s final score of the half came with Opie sacking Vidal in the end zone as the buzzer sounded.
Crane received the second-half kickoff, and on first down, Nyman lofted another pass to Opie for a 50-yard score and Arritola added the 2-point conversion for a 56-16 lead.
Crane began their next offensive possession at the Eagles’ 20 and Justin Baldwin carried four straight times, getting the score from two yards out. He also added the 2-point conversion, and the game went to a running clock because of the 45-point rule.
The Mustangs tacked on another 14 points on an 18-yard run by Thomas O’Toole, a 2-point conversion pass from Landon to John O’Toole and an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jack Bentz to Landon.
Opie completed four of 11 passes for 68 yards with one touchdown and one interception, Landon was 3-for-5 for 70 yards and one TD, Nyman was 2-for-2 for 79 yards and two scores and Bentz was 1-for-1 for eight yards and one score.
Opie rushed for 124 yards on eight carries, Arritola carried 10 times for 54 yards, Landon had six rushes for 54 yards, Baldwin picked up 81 yards on nine carries, Joyce added 18 yards on three carries and T. O’Toole had 11 yards on two rushes.
Opie caught three passes for 111 yards, Nyman had three receptions for 43 yards, Landon two catches for 33 yards, T. O’Toole one catch for seven yards and Joe Valentine one for 31 yards.
McKenzie’s Vidal completed 17 of 37 passes for 285 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Leading rusher for the Eagles was Josh Ness, who picked up just four yards on three carries, and Anderson was the leading receiver, hauling in seven passes for 202 yards.
The next game for the Mustangs is set for Friday, Sept. 21, when they travel to Adrian for their league opener. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. MT.
1 2 3 4 Final
McK 0 16 0 6 22
Cra 26 22 24 6 78