After dominating the Pine City Dragons last week, the Mora Mustangs varsity football team next faces Aitkin — known for being one of the toughest defensive teams in the district.
Mora vs. Pine City
A long-awaited home opener finally arrived for the Mustangs. The game had a slightly different feel with a much smaller crowd, no concessions, marked spots on the sidelines where players were supposed to stand and coaches wearing masks on the sidelines.
One thing that remained consistent from the past few years was a powerful Mustangs running game. Mora used that running game to win their home opener over Pine City 36-6.
Mora let it be known immediately that it was going to be their night. Mora received the opening kickoff and immediately marched 64 yards for the games first touchdown. Nick Nelson provided a 39-yard run on the drive. Ben Wright finished it off with a 5-yard touchdown run.
Nick Nelson ran in the two point conversion and Mora led 8-0. It only took two minutes and 33 seconds for the Mustangs to strike. Head coach Troy Erickson said of the start, “We picked up a couple of big third down conversions to sustain the drive. We did a good job all night picking up eight of 12 third down conversions.”
The Mustangs defense also showed right away it would be a tough night for the Dragons to score points. Pine City’s first two possessions only garnered them one first down and two punts. “The offense did a great job on third downs, so did the defense. Pine City only converted one third down and one fourth down for the whole game,”,said Coach Erickson.
Mora’s offense would complement the defense by taking advantage of good field position provided to extend their lead. During the Mustangs second drive they marched 53 yards. Nick Nelson finished the drive off with a three yard touchdown run. Quarterback Caleb Anderson hit Nelson for the two point conversion, and it was 16-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The offense continued its first half dominance on its third possession. This time the passing game got in on the action. Caleb Anderson hit Ben Wright for a 10-yard touchdown strike. This time the two point conversion failed, and it was 22-0.
The defense continued its sharp play in the first half. Pine City put together its best drive of the half picking up three first downs. The defense rose up and forced a fumble. With the recovery on their own 10-yard line the offense would have to go a long way with not too much time left in the half.
Coach Erickson said, “We called a blitz on the play and they ran right into it. We made a great play to force the fumble.”
The offense picked up the tempo and marched right down the field. Six first downs were picked up on the drive culminating with a 1-yard touchdown run by Cody Haggberg. The two point conversion failed, and Mora took a commanding 28-0 lead into halftime.
In the third quarter both team’s defenses-controlled play. Both offenses fumbled away the ball on one possession and turned the ball over on downs in their other possession of the quarter. Coach Erickson said, “We didn’t play very cleanly in the second half. We know we can play better than that and we’ll have to.”
Pine City got on the board in the fourth quarter, but Mora answered immediately. Caleb Anderson scored from one yard out. Ben Wright ran in the two point conversion for the final score of 36-6.
Mora’s ground game amassed 373 yards. Individually:
Ben Wright 26 carries 213 yards one touchdown
Nick Nelson 12 carries 84 yards one touchdown
Kobe Swanson eight carries 47 yards
Cody Haggberg seven carries 22 yards one touchdown.
Quarterback Caleb Anderson completed three of seven passes for 34 yards and one touchdown.
Ben Wright caught two of those passes for 22 yards and a touchdown.
Andrew Rasmusson hauled in the other completion for 12 yards.
With the win Mora improved to 2-0 on the season outscoring their opponents 87-6.
Up next: Aitkin
Mora will get tested in their next game when they host Aitkin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23.
Aitkin is also 2-0 on the season and is coming off a 30-6 win over Crosby-Ironton. Last season Aitkin got a 28- 20 win over Mora so the Mustangs will be looking to return the favor.
On their upcoming opponent Coach Erickson said, “Aitkin typically is the most physical and toughest defensive team we play in our district. It will be a great test for our team.”