SPRINGFIELD, MO — Prior to Friday night, it could be said the Eldon Mustangs had the Irish number. The two teams had met three times since the MSHSAA football playoff restructuring. They met in 2012, 2016, and 2017......all falling in the favor of the Mustangs. The 2018 matchup however, would not follow recent history.
Unlike last week against Rogersville, the Irish came out of the gate swinging; taking the opening kickoff 73 yards on 10 plays to paydirt. The drive was steady mixture of read-option run plays capped by a Nick Crites 18-yard run.
Once again, the defense went to work early. Taking advantage of yet another Logan Brock touchback, the three-and-out gave the Irish the ball back on a short field; starting on the Mustang 45 yard line. The Irish running game went back to work but converted a key 3 and 13 with a nice play-action pass to Peyton James to keep the drive going. Tyson Riley would score the first of his 5 touchdowns on the night from two yards out.
The Mustangs would score their only touchdown of the first half after taking advantage of a bad punt snap that gave them the ball on the Irish 25. That score brought the Mustangs back to within two scores (20-7). The Irish immediately answered on the ensuing drive covering 60-yards in only 5 plays. The key-play was a screen pass to Nick Crites that brought the Irish to the 2-yard line with only 6 seconds left in the half. Tyson Riley covered the remaining 2-yards giving the Irish a comfortable 20 point advantage heading into halftime.
Catholic would continue to play strong in the second half. Tyson Riley picked up his 3rd interception of the season to end the first drive of the 2nd half and Will Squibb perfectly covered an Irish punt fielding a Mustang fumble on the fly. This set up yet another short field and a Tyson Riley to Michael Manzardo 31-yard TD strike.
The Irish controlled the remainder of the game. The line of scrimmage was noticable different from the 2017 contest. The Irish defense also shined with George Hall leading the way at middle linebacker with 9 solo tackles, 13 in total. Charlie O'Reilly also stepped in at cornerback providing some solid pass coverage and 5 solo tackles as well.
The Irish will move on the the MSHSAA Class 3, District 5 championship next Friday (11/9) and will face former COC foe Buffalo.