The Mustangs used 21 points in the first quarter to bury Hardin-Jefferson in the opening round of the UIL State Playoffs. Madisonville survives the Bi-District round with the 42-20 win over the Hawks and will compete in Bryan next Friday.
“It was obviously a big win and we came out hot,” said Nail after victory. “We got flat in the middle there but were still able to score some more points. We subbed out some guys near the end there and they were able to post a couple scores on us.”
The fierce Mustang rushing attack was the story again. Cornelius Merchant continued his tremendous season with two touchdowns and a pair of runs that went for more than 50 yards. Uriel Willis, Aaron Nellums and Ben Phillips also found the end zone on the ground. Kendell Moffett took a screen pass from Phillips over 60 yards to reach pay dirt at the end of the first quarter to give Madisonville a commanding lead.
“It’s all about the guys up front,” said Merchant on his offensive line. “They make a lot of holes out there for us to run through so all you can do is thank them. We need to stay focussed as a team and not get big heads just because we won tonight. There are more games to come.”
The Hawks were able to capitalize with two late scores to make the game look a lot closer than it actually was. Defensively, Madisonville was strong all night and caused fits in the backfield. Gage Smith came away with an interception in the second half. The Mustang secondary was everywhere all night, but they couldn’t quite capitalize on a few easy picks.
The Hawks were able to orchestrate a few impressive offensive drives throughout the coarse of the evening, but they simply took too long. After marching most of the field, the HJ was in a prime position to put some points on the board before the half. However, the drive stalled and ended in a missed field goal attempt.
HJ was finally able to break the scoreboard on their first drive of the second half, but it took them over seven minutes to do so. They finally found some big plays late in the fourth, but everyone in Splendora knew the outcome by then.
With that, the Mustangs have punched their ticket to Bryan and await either Caldwell or Lorena. The Hornets (4-5) will take on the Leopards (4-6) tomorrow night to determine who has a date with Madisonville with a trip to Regionals on the line.