It was all there for Mullen.
Friday Night Lights. Home game at Brother Bernard Kinneavy Field at De La Salle Stadium. A matchup with longtime rival Regis Jesuit. Fans and traffic threatened to overrun the area near South Lowell Boulevard. Tailgating in the parking lots. Large student sections. Much-needed, cool Colorado breezes at dusk after another torridly hot mid-September day. And the Mustangs were coming off a rousing victory that levelled their early season mark.
But they couldn’t overcome a skilled Raiders team that grabbed the lead early, held it and fought off any Mullen advances to take a stimulating 35-21 nonleague victory.
Regis Jesuit has won six of the past 11 head-to-head meetings.
Hence, it’s back to the proverbial drawing board for head coach Jeremy Bennett’s players, who fell to 1-2 and need further assistance in how to grab victory.
“You know what, here’s the thing – first of all,” he said, “our kids fly around to the ball. It’s not a physical thing; it’s trying to get over that hump, learning to win.
“We always want to worry about covering for the guy next to us, if that makes sense, so I do this and take myself out of position and out of my position. We don’t focus on our own assignments and that will kill you.”
Mullen got within 35-21 with 6:18 to play, but no further as Regis Jesuit continued to win battles up front, employ its talent inside and on the perimeter, and run out the clock after covering an onside kick.
“They’re a very disciplined football team,” Bennett said of the Raiders, “and they played very disciplined. I think they won up front and were smaller than us. Their run game took over and they did what they wanted.”
Regis Jesuit (2-1) scored on its first two possessions for a 14-0 lead before the Mustangs’ only first-half spark, a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Michael Brouillette. Big plays again haunted the Mustangs as they gave up a 33-yard interception return for a TD and a 57-yard scoring pass for a 28-7 deficit.
Jaxon Heil and Owen Hearty had second-half TDs for Mullen, but it had no answers for the Raiders running game as well as regular difficulty covering their receivers. Execution on offense also proved spotty.
“We didn’t tackle well and we dropped some balls,” Bennett added. “And just when we thought we’d turn it around, (the Raiders) would make a play.
“Like I said, it’s not a physical tjing. We’re trying to get over that hump and I have to do a better job as a head coach to get them to believe it.”
REGIS 35, MULLEN 21
Regis Jesuit 14 14 7 – 35
Mullen 7 0 7 7 -- 21
RJ – Andrew Metzger 15 pass from Exander Carroll (Ty Murphy kick), 5:39.
RJ – Dallas Macias 64 pass from Exander Carroll (Ty Murphy kick), 3:36.
M – Michael Brouillette 92 kickoff return (Bryce Sohayda kick), 3:22.
RJ – Derven Taylor 33 interception return (Ty Murphy kick), 6:31.
RJ – D’andre Barnes 57 pass from Exander Carroll (Ty Murphy kick), 2:25.
M – Jaxon Heil 3 run (Bryce Sohayda kick), 8:47.
RJ – Zavier Carroll 10 run (Ty Murphy kick), 0:37.
M – Owen Hearty 5 pass from Blake Palladino (Bryce Sohayda kick), 6:18.