WYOMING — Finesse has given way to grit and guts.
When toughness was needed, Midland was able to rely on it for a success start to the prep football season.
The Eagles used a late defensive stand, a final clock-melting driving and pounded the ground with three 100-yard rushers for a 50-47 8-player football victory over fifth-ranked Lone Tree Friday night at home.
“It is a great place to start honing your craft so you can get better at what you do,” Midland Coach Lennie Miller said. “It’s a good place to remind our kids this is where we are and this is the work we have to do.”
Midland boasts a big and strong offensive line, including a couple 300-pounders. The Eagles rumbled for 338 yards on the ground. Alex Smith finished with a team-high 113 yards and senior Carter Mohr and Wilson Buckwalter each added 102 yards.
“I thought we were more physical than them,” Miller said. ”I thought that helped.”
The biggest gut-check came when Lone Tree took over at its own 26 with 6:16 left, trailing by three. The Lions drove to Midland’s 20. The Eagles’ Ethan Orr had a tackle for loss, Buckwalter recovered to break up a pass to a wide-open Brady Dauber in the end zone and then took advantage of a bad snap on a 45-yard field-goal attempt to tie the game.
The Eagles limited Lone Tree to six points in the final stanza, allowing long touchdown scores earlier in the game.
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“Our defense came up huge in the fourth quarter,” Mohr said. “They made a huge stop and got the ball back.”
Midland turned to its run game to erase the last 2:13 off the clock. Buckwalter opened the drive with a 26-yard jaunt to just about seal it, setting up Smith and quarterback Britan Martens to combine for the final first down.
“We knew we were a team that could ground and pound,” offensive lineman Brett Schoenherr said. “We can really grind out that win.”
The Eagles overcame a slow start after Ty Griffin’s 19-yard TD run gave Lone Tree a 26-8 lead in the second quarter. They snatched momentum in the final six minutes of the first half to grab their first lead.
Smith scored on an 11-yard run. Midland capitalized on three straight turnovers, including an interception by Brett Schoenherr and two fumbles that led to touchdown runs of 1 and 9 yards by Mohr for a 30-26 edge at halftime.
Mohr finished with four touchdowns, hauling a screen pass for a 26-yard TD with 11:37 to go in the fourth.
“Carter is a veteran guy here,” Schoenherr said. “He’s been playing for a couple years. When we need a guy to make a play we can count on him. He definitely played good on offense tonight.”
Harmon Miller had 116 rushing yards, including touchdowns of 54 and 43 yards. He also had 109 yards and two scores passing for Lone Tree.
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