Madisonville led Tarkington 14-0 tonight before the Longhorns even got to run an offensive play. The Mustangs went on to post a season-high 70 points on senior night en route to their third shutout of the regular season in the finale.
“I’m glad these seniors went out with a win here,” said head coach Rusty Nail after the win. “They’ll be the group that’s remembered for changing the culture here. This program will be good for years to come because of what they put in place.”
Tarkington tried to catch Madisonville off guard to start the game with a surprise onside kick. However, it backfired when Marcus Dorman recovered and returned it to the Longhorn 4. Quarterback Ben Phillips kept it himself to begin the scoring for Madisonville. This would become a theme.
The Mustangs turned right around after the opening score and gave Tarkington a taste of their own medicine with an onside kick. It appeared to be heading into the arms of a Longhorn, but Kendell Moffett knocked it away and fell right on top of it. Cornelius Merchant would cap off that drive with a 22-yard score.
Merchant passed the 1,000-yard mark on the season in the win. He’s just one of multiple Mustang backs who have had tremendous seasons with the help of a stout five up front.
“The offensive line has been making holes for all of us to run through this year,” said Merchant. “We just need to stay strong moving forward.”
Merchant would score twice on the night and Uriel Willis found pay dirt three times. Moffett, Nellums and Gage Smith would also record offensive touchdowns in the victory.
Defensively, coach Randall Cherry and the 2017 Madisonville unit can say for the rest of their lives that they recorded a shutout in almost a third of their games. The Mustangs also shutout Teague and Royal earlier in the season.
Madisonville’s defense was not to be denied all night and intercepted four passes off Tarkington quarterback Cole Mclawchlin. Tyrese Brown recorded two of these picks, including one he brought back to the house for the ninth Mustang score of the night.
“We knew we had to come out with an attitude that we were going to win by fifty or more,” said Brown. “Our mindset now is getting to State.”
With a record of 9-1 and a regular season District Championship under their belt, Madisonville shifts their focus to the postseason. The Mustangs will matchup with Hardin-Jefferson in the opening round. The game will take place at a neutral site in Splendora on Thursday evening.
“One at a time,” said Nail on the postseason. “The region is set and this group has a chance to accomplish something this program never has.”