By Madeline Williams
Allied News Sports Correspondent
MERCER COUNTY AREA —
The battle of the unbeaten teams came to an end on Friday night as the host Mercer Mustangs defeated the neighboring Lakeview Sailors 19-8 in Region 1-A play.
Under the leadership of head coach Pat McClearn, the Mustangs (4-0 overall, 3-0 region competition) have already avenged three losses from last season and have their eyes set on getting back to the District 10 game.
“Overall (Friday) was a great game for us,” McClearn said. ‘As long as we can keep people in single digits and get a little offense together, we have a fighting chance this season.”
The Mustangs defense, led by seniors Brian Phillips, Luke Leonard, Ronnie Priester, Colton Price, and Matt Hoffman, as well as junior Troy Sagulla, shut down the Sailor’s offense led by Mercer County’s leading rusher senior Blake Reddick, containing him to only 61 yards on 18 carries.
“Lakeview has a heck of an offense, and to hold them to eight points is an amazing feat,” McClearn said. “Their offensive line is really big and we had a tough time for a little while there, but Coach (Rob) Swartz had our boys prepared for them.”
The Mustangs got out to an early lead in the game on a 23-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Logan Clarke to junior T.J. Peters during the first offensive march down the field. Senior Chase Hoffman added the extra point.
“Logan made some good reads for us tonight,” McClearn said. “He’s a winner on the football field, on the basketball court, and on the baseball field. He wants the ball in his hands during crunch time. He’s the type of kid we want to have as quarterback and he did a great job (Friday).”
The Blue and White kept the 7-0 lead until early in the fourth quarter when Reddick ran 5 yards for a touchdown and Lakeview’s quarterback senior Zach Bigley ran in the 2-point conversion to take back the lead.
Mercer responded quickly though when Clarke ran for a 2-yard touchdown during the next drive. The 2-point conversion failed, but the Mustangs were on top again 13-8 with 7:51 to play.
The final scoring play of the game came with just under 3 1/2 minutes to play when senior Zane O’Brien powered 6 yards into the end zone. Hoffman’s extra-point attempt was no good.
Lakeview had one last minute drive down the field in the final minute of the fourth quarter before Mercer’s Austin Hall picked off Bigley’s pass to wrap up the game.
Lakeview head coach Dan York credited the Mustangs’ strong offense on Friday night.
“They completed a lot of passes on us and that’s where the game is won and lost,” York said. “Tonight was not one of our best defensive nights.”
Clarke led the offensive assault for the Mustangs, throwing for 195 yards and rushing for 58 yards on 12 runs. O’Brien rushed for 64 yards on 12 carries. Seniors Jarred Davis and Leonard had 75 and 49 receiving yards, respectively.
Lakeview’s offense was led by Bigley, who threw for 143 yards and ran for 36. Reddick rushed for 61 yards and had a 13-yard catch midway through the third quarter. Senior Zach VanDusen had 127 receiving yards on 3 catches and junior Marquis Spence rushed for 40 yards on 7 carries.
Lakeview looks to bounce back from the loss as they take on Kennedy Catholic Saturday afternoon for another Region 1-A matchup.
Mercer hopes to keep the winning streak alive as they travel to region rival West Middlesex for their Homecoming game on Friday night. Game time is 7:15 p.m. The Big Reds downed Conneaut Area last week at home 31-21.
“It looks like it will be just as tough this (Friday) against the Big Reds, maybe even tougher,” McClearn said. “I told the boys to enjoy the weekend, because we have a lot of work to do this week.”