MENDOTA – A diversified offensive attack is what most football teams strive for and opposing defenses dread. The 2021 version of the Mendota Trojans have shown they can score points in a variety of ways, and that luxury was on full display against Bureau Valley.
Mendota had the Bureau Valley defense on its heels the entire night as the Trojans scored in a multitude of ways en route to a 42-22 triumph over the Storm in Three Rivers Conference action on Sept. 10 at the MHS field.
The Trojans ran their record to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the TRAC-Mississippi Division while handing Bureau Valley its first loss in three outings. This is Mendota’s first 3-0 start to a season since the 2011 campaign.
Mendota was well balanced in churning out its 426 total yards in the contest. The Trojans gained 247 yards on the ground and 179 through the air. Of Mendota’s five touchdowns, three came via the pass. The Trojans also added a pair of field goals and a safety in cruising to victory.
Mendota pulled a familiar trick out of its hat to start the game when it tried an onside kick that bounded off of a Bureau Valley player and was recovered by the Trojans at the Storm 46-yard line. It looked as though the Trojans were going to get on the board quickly after that onside kick when quarterback Ted Landgraf took off and rumbled down inside the Storm 10-yard line. But a BV defender jarred the ball loose from Landgraf and it was recovered by Bureau Valley at the 1-yard line.
The Storm’s first play on offense resulted in no gain. Then on the second play, a swarm of Trojan defenders stopped BV’s Layton Britt before he could exit the end zone and Mendota had a safety for a 2-0 lead.
BV had to kick the ball back to the Trojans, who set up shop at the Storm 48 to begin their next drive. The possession culminated in a 27-yard touchdown pass from Landgraf to Isaac Smith. Emilio Perez’s extra-point kick made it 9-0.
Bureau Valley wasted little time in putting its first points on the board, when exactly a minute after the Trojans scored, the Storm got a 62-yard touchdown run from Jaden Michlig. The PAT kick was no good.
After the Storm touchdown, Mendota took over on both sides of the ball – the defense getting two takeaways from Bureau Valley and the offense reeling off 19 straight points to grab a 28-6 lead.
On Mendota’s ensuing possession after the BV touchdown, the Trojans marched 65 yards in eight plays, the finale being an 8-yard dart to the end zone by Landgraf. Perez booted the extra point. A 36-yard burst by Trojan running back Uzi Angulo during the drive helped put the team in scoring position.
Mendota’s defense came up big on BV’s next series when linebacker Christian Tellez intercepted an Adam Johnson pass and returned it 12 yards to the Storm 42. During Mendota’s possession, Angulo broke through the BV line for another big gain, this time for 25 yards. The Trojans eventually settled for a 27-yard field goal by Perez to take a 19-6 lead with 10:03 left in the half.
When Bureau Valley took over, the Trojan defense forced the Storm into the game’s first punt and Mendota started at its own 40. A 39-yard pass from Landgraf to Smith advanced the ball down to the Storm 21-yard line. The drive ended with another Perez field goal, this time from 35 yards out, to make it 22-6.
Mendota’s second takeaway from Bureau Valley came on the Storm’s ensuing possession when Johnson fumbled and Smith pounced on it at the BV 11-yard line. Angulo ran the ball three times for the Trojans, the last being a 3-yard TD run at the 2:56 mark of the first half. The extra-point kick was no good and Mendota led 28-6.
Bureau Valley was able to get in the end zone one more time before the half when Michlig ran in from the 7-yard line, followed by a Johnson two-point conversion run, with 19 seconds remaining, to make it a 28-14 score at the break.
Each team tallied a touchdown in the third period, Mendota’s coming first on its opening possession of the second half. Starting at their own 32-yard line, the Trojans ran the ball six times and got to their own 47. Then on the seventh play, Landgraf lofted a bomb to Damien Magallanes and 53 yards later, Magallanes was in the end zone. Perez kicked the extra point and Mendota moved out to a 35-14 lead.
The Storm matched the Mendota TD with one of its own on its first series of the second half. It needed seven plays to cover 65 yards with a Sam Rouse 2-yard run capping off the drive with 4:48 left in the quarter. BV converted the two-pointer on a pass from Johnson to Brock Foster to make it a two-touchdown gap.
The Storm had an excellent opportunity to get even closer when an Angulo fumble on Mendota’s next possession was recovered by BV at the Trojan 38-yard line. But Mendota’s defense had other ideas and Trojan linebacker John Gonzalez chased down Johnson and threw him for a big loss back inside the Storm’s own territory. Bureau Valley tried to pull off a fake punt, and it had momentary success, when even though a pass from the punter, Rouse, was incomplete, the Trojans were called for pass interference. The penalty wasn’t enough to give BV a first down, though, and the Storm ended up punting the ball back to Mendota.
The Trojans put the game away with the only touchdown of the fourth frame. A 63-yard TD pass from Landgraf to Perez was nullified by an illegal procedure penalty on Mendota, but the Trojans still ended up getting in the end zone when the Landgraf-to-Perez connection hooked up on a 43-yard TD pass with 7:55 to play. Perez added the PAT kick. Landgraf converted a fourth-and-two run during the series to keep the drive alive.
Angulo led the Trojans in rushing with 20 carries for 115 yards. Four of Landgraf’s seven pass completions went to Smith for 85 yards. Mendota’s defense limited BV to 234 total yards.