BYRON – As if Mendota’s schedule of opponents couldn’t get any tougher, along comes Byron. Coming off of a trip to the Class 3A state semifinals in 2017, the Tigers are back as formidable as ever in 2018. So much so, that they have earned the state’s number one ranking in 3A this season.
Needless to say, the Trojans knew the task was tall, and that’s how things played out as Mendota was overwhelmed by the Tigers, 57-0, in a Big Northern Conference contest on Sept. 28 at Everett Stine Stadium in Byron.
All of Byron’s scoring was done in the first half, so the teams played to a continuous clock in the second half. The Tigers scored in almost every way imaginable. They had three touchdown runs, one TD pass, recovered a fumble in the end zone for a score, ran two interceptions back for touchdowns and recorded a safety.
On the flip side, Mendota didn’t come close to scoring. The Trojans managed just 94 total yards in absorbing their second shutout loss of the season. Byron finished with 351 yards as it went with its second unit in the final two quarters.
After the Trojans went three and out on the opening possession of the game, Mendota’s defense held down the Tigers on their first series and forced a punt. Unfortunately for the Trojans, the punt traveled 56 yards and pinned Mendota back at its own 5-yard line.
Mendota’s second series also resulted in a punt, and Byron assumed possession at the Trojan 33-yard line. It took the Tigers just two plays to score the game’s first touchdown when Ricky Messling ran 21-yards to the end zone at the 7:10 mark of the first quarter. Aydin Lambert booted the extra-point kick.
Two more stalled possessions by the Trojans resulted in two more punts and two more touchdowns for Byron before the end of the opening stanza. Tyler Camling capped off a 72-yard drive by the Tigers with a 6-yard TD run, followed by a Lambert kick to make it 14-0. A 55-yard run by Isaac Stickler was the big play of the drive.
The Tigers tacked on another score with 1:26 left in the first quarter on a 10-yard TD run by Drake Snodgrass to finish off a 64-yard drive. Lambert added the PAT kick. Messling’s 41-yard run helped set up the score.
Byron exploded for 36 points in the second quarter, starting with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Ben Carlson to Drake Snodgrass. The pass was short, but Snodgrass turned it into a big play as he eluded several would-be Trojan tacklers. Lambert’s extra-point kick was good.
Mendota had numerous problems with the snap from center to quarterback Gavin Glazebrook, who managed to leap and save several bad offerings. But he couldn’t corral two of them in the second period that resulted in points for Byron. The first had Glazebrook chasing the ball into the end zone, where he was tackled for a safety to give Byron a 30-0 lead.
After the Trojans booted the ball back to Byron, the Tigers needed just three plays to cover 45 yards. Messling put the finishing touches on the short journey with a 7-yard touchdown run. Lambert split the uprights on the extra-point kick.
On Mendota’s ensuing possession, another high snap from center sailed over Glazebrook’s head and into the end zone. Byron’s Tyler Elsbury pounced on the ball for a touchdown. Lambert’s PAT kick made it 44-0.
Mendota got a takeaway from Byron when Brayden Northcutt recovered a Tiger fumble at midfield, but the Trojans turned in right back over as Tiger linebacker Colton Ingram stepped in front of a Glazebrook pass and returned it 55 yards to the end zone. Lambert converted the extra-point kick.
The final points of the game came with 2:41 left in the first half when Byron’s Dayne Snodgrass ran back an interception 66 yards for a score. Mendota blocked the extra-point kick.
Mendota (0-6, 0-6) got 59 yards rushing from Edwin Angulo, while Gabe Guzman picked up 43 yards on the ground. A total of 14 players ran the ball for Byron (6-0, 6-0) as it gained 301 of its yards on the ground.