Despite fielding three different centers and players playing out of position throughout the contest, the tenacity of the young and determined team provided Mora with the first win of the 2021 season with the Mustangs beating Hibbing 20-14.
The final score didn’t fully illustrate the magnitude of the statistical mismatch in front of the Mustang’s homecoming crowd. The Mustangs attacked the ground game with proficiency, out rushing Hibbing 416 yards to 46 yards. Hibbing added 104 yards passing, but the Mustangs controlled the game in total plays (77 over Hibbing’s 40). The Mustang’s crossed the first down marker 21 times with Hibbing only getting seven first downs. The Mustang’s defense didn’t allow the Bluejackets to convert a single third or fourth-down conversion all game.
“It was a grueling game for us physically,” head coach Troy Erickson said. “The amount of adversity they battled through, along with all the extra activities the team participated in earlier in the day - I’ve never been on a field that many times in a game helping get injured players off.”
Connor Gmahl punched in two touchdown runs and a two-point conversion and ran for 135 yards, but was sidelined most of the second half due to cramping. The first touchdown was a 3-yard run in the first quarter. Gmahl then ran in the two-point conversion to make it 8-0.
The other touchdown came in the second quarter from 6 yards out to make it 14-0. Brock Folkema ran for 70 yards on 11 attempts. Nolan Fergus ran for 31 yards on five attempts.
With Gmahl on the sideline, Coach Erickson said, “Nolan McGaw stepped up for us and carried the load,” ripping a 32-yard run at one point. McGaw ran for 76 yards on 10 attempts.
Hibbing scored in the third quarter with an Evan Radovich 8-yard pass to Amari Manning to make it 14-8 after a successful two-point conversion.
Brock Folkema then ran in Mora’s final touchdown from 5 yards out in the fourth quarter to make it 20-8 before Evan Radovich connected with Amari Manning again, this time for a 44-yard touchdown. The failed two-point conversion made it 20-14.
“It took the whole team to win,” Erickson said. “My highlight was seeing the intestinal fortitude in the players as we neared the end, successfully driving the ball down the field to end the game in victory formation.”
The Mustangs chose to kneel on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line to run out the clock and secure a homecoming victory.
Coach Erickson said, “It was a great homecoming win. Having lost it in 2019 and not getting a chance to play a homecoming game in 2020 due to the COVID-shortened season, this team can hang their hat on a win like this.”
Due to injuries and COVID related illnesses on the Mustang squad the Friday, Oct. 8 game vs Aitkin has been canceled. The next scheduled game is Friday, Oct. 20 vs Pine City.
1 2 3 4 T
Mora 8 6 0 6 20
Hibbing 0 0 8 6 14