Entering the 2019 season Mora football has high hopes for another great season. The season kicked off last Thursday night, Aug. 29, at Bergloff-Deis Field against a talented North Branch team. The Mustangs showed they will be a contender this season with an exciting 22-14 victory over the Vikings.
Head coach Troy Erickson knew this would be a difficult battle, “We knew yards would be hard to come by. Both teams are schematically similar on offense so they knew how to slow us down, and we knew how to slow them down. We were able to use some additional wrinkles offensively that allowed us to hurt them.”
North Branch struck first on a 20-yard touchdown pass and after the two point conversion led 8-0. It would be the only pass completion of the game for the Vikings. Throughout the game coach Erickson was pleased with his defense, “We had a good plan on defense and the kids executed the plan well.” Mora would hold North Branch to just 188 yards of offense for the game.
North Branch was on the move in the second quarter looking to extend its lead. On fourth and inches the Mustangs defense stuffed the Vikings and forced a fumble and recovery. The offense was able to take advantage culminating with a Jaden Ponto 13-yard touchdown run. Ponto would finish the night with 64 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. The two point conversion failed and Mora trailed 8-6 at halftime.
The Mustangs came out of the locker room and put together a long touchdown drive. A crucial play on the drive was a third and nine conversion as quarterback Caleb Anderson hit Nick Nelson for a 35-yard pickup. Anderson only threw three passes on the night but completed them all for 50 yards. Nelson would finish off the drive with a four yard touchdown run. Nelson would end the game with 52 yards rushing on 15 carries. After the two point conversion Mora led 14-8.
North Branch would answer with a long, methodical drive of their own. A pass interference penalty would set up the Vikings at the Mustangs 11 yard line. North Branch would punch it into the end zone. The two point conversion failed and the game headed to the fourth quarter tied 14-14.
The Mustangs offense would answer with an impressive methodical drive of their own. The offense would grind out first down after first down. Ponto would get his second score of the night from three yards out. Anderson would hit Nate Burski for a crucial two point conversion making it 22-14.
The defense would rise up and force a three and out. The offense did a great job of moving the ball on its subsequent drive and taking precious time off the clock. Eventually North Branch would force a turnover on downs and took over with about two minutes left and having 73 yards in front of them.
Once again the defense did its job. The victory was sealed with a Ben Wright interception as North Branch was in desperation mode.
Mora will play at home again this Friday night, Sept. 6, as they host Eveleth-Gilbert at 7:00 p.m. The Golden Bears are coming off a 40-14 win over East Central last week. It is Hall of Fame induction night with a ceremony on the field starting at 6:40 p.m..