First-half woes continue to torture Trojans

Mendota’s Edwin Angulo puts out a straight-arm to try to ward off the tackle attempt of Stillman Valley’s Austin Dowty on Oct. 5 at Stillman Valley. (Reporter photo)

STILLMAN VALLEY – If Mendota could figure out a way to score some points in the first half, it might be a moral victory, if nothing else.

The Trojans’ sputtering offense out of the gate was on display again at Stillman Valley as they fell behind by three touchdowns en route to a 28-15 setback to the Cardinals in Big Northern Conference action on Oct. 5.

Mendota was blanked in the first quarter for the seventh time in as many games. And the Trojans have managed just six second-quarter points all season. On the flip side, Mendota’s opponents have put a staggering 226 points on the board in the first half through seven weeks.

Stillman Valley did a bulk of its scoring in the first half, tallying a pair of first-quarters TDs and adding another in the second frame to take a 21-0 lead at intermission.

The Cardinals wasted little time in finding the end zone as they needed just two plays to go 48 yards on the game’s opening offensive series. After Mendota’s defense stopped Stillman Valley for no gain on the first play, quarterback Tyler Lamer ran 48 yards to paydirt on the second play with just 45 seconds elapsed from the game clock. Luke Roberts kicked the extra point.

Mendota’s first series resulted in a punt and Stillman Valley took possession at its own 37. Twelve plays later, fullback Logan Lagerhausen bulled into the end zone from 1 yard out, followed by a Roberts PAT kick, to make it 14-0.

The Trojans’ offense showed some signs of life on their ensuing possession when they moved the ball 38 yards to the Stillman Valley 33, but the drive stalled there on a fourth-down play that came up short.

Mendota caught a break on the Cardinals’ next series when Lamer fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Edwin Angulo at his own 31, but the Trojans were forced to punt and Stillman Valley regained possession at its own 19.

On the first play of the ensuing series, Stillman Valley’s Austin Dowty sprinted 81 yards for a touchdown at the 2:55 mark of the second quarter. Roberts added the extra-point kick for a 21-0 Cardinal lead.

Mendota’s Eddy Sandoval returned the kickoff 48 yards to the Stillman Valley 43, and the Trojans advanced the ball to the 25, but they turned it over on downs and the half ended.

As has been the case for most of the season, Mendota’s offense came out invigorated in the second half. The Trojans accepted the second-half kickoff and began the series at their own 28. Mendota put together a slow, methodical drive that advanced the ball down to the Stillman Valley 4-yard line. A holding penalty on the Trojans moved them back, and they eventually had to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Angulo with 1:34 left in the quarter. Mendota ran 16 plays during the drive and took more than 10 minutes off the clock.

On the first play of Stillman Valley’s next possession, Mendota’s Preston Lewis put a big stick on Lagerhausen, who fumbled the ball, and it was recovered by the Trojans’ Chris Sandoval at the Cardinal 33-yard line. The third quarter clock ran out, with Mendota possessing the football all but eight seconds of the period.

The Trojans could only move the ball to the Stillman Valley 25 and turned it over on downs. Then the Cardinals’ offense set out on a 13-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a Matthew Williams 3-yard touchdown run. Roberts booted the extra-point kick for a 28-3 lead.

Mendota was able to score two touchdowns in the final 54 seconds of the game. The first was a 6-yard TD run by Angulo that culminated a nine-play, 54-yard drive. The extra-point kick was no good.

Then, after the Trojans recovered an onside kick, Angulo raced up the middle for a 27-yard touchdown scamper as time expired on the clock. No extra-point was attempted as lighting filled the sky and the rain started falling.

Mendota (0-7, 0-7) finished with 264 total yards compared to 313 for Stillman Valley. Angulo carried 40 times for 206 yards. There was only one pass thrown in the game, an incompletion by Angulo.

The Trojans ran 57 plays from scrimmage, 18 more than the Cardinals, and the time of possession was a lopsided 33:13 to 14:47 in Mendota’s favor.


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