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Mustangs Battle but Fall to Ranked Erie

by: Aaron Montgomery, Athletic Intern
Friday night, the Mullen Mustangs traveled to Erie High School to take on the 14th ranked Tigers and their highly touted quarterback Blake Barnett.  Barnett got the Tigers off to a quick start on the game’s first possession leading the Tigers on a 73 yard drive ending in a Josh Levine 3-yard reception and score. Erie led 7-0. The next drive for Erie, Barnett  hit Levine through the air for a 37-yard TD giving the Tigers an early 15-0 lead after a successful 2-point conversion.  Erie would go on and tack on 7 more points to end the quarter with a 22 - 0 lead.
After another Erie score early in the 2nd-quarter, senior Jordan Leslie, who is averaging 215 all-purpose yards in two games, took the ensuing kickoff and returned it all  the way back to the Erie 5-yard line setting up the Mustangs with a first and goal.  Two plays later,  Montrey Lewis Jr punched it in for the 1-yard score.  The point after attempt was unsuccessful, and the Tigers’ lead was reduced to 29-6.  Erie would score again to stretch their lead to 30 points, but Mullen would come roaring back.  Later in the 2nd quarter, after a big interception by Hildeberto Antillon, Mullen put together a great drive.  Freshman quarterback Koa Dietrich found junior Tight End Brennan Weaver who made a ridiculous one-handed grab across the middle for 22-yards.  Two plays later, junior wide receiver  Sonny Donati made a nice grab to keep the Mustangs rolling.  Two more Dietrich completions found the Mustangs first and ten at the 19-yardline with about a minute to play in the half.  On the next play, Dietrich went up top to his big target, sophomore Mason Bonner, for the 19-yard score. Mullen would fail on a 2-point conversion and trailed the Tigers 36-12 with under a minute to go in the half.  With the help of two incomplete passes and a penalty by Erie, Mullen found itself with another possession in Tiger territory with seconds to go in the 2nd-Quarter.  With 5-second left in the half, Dietrich found  Weaver in the end zone for a Mustang score.  The 2-point conversion was successful, and Mullen brought the quarter to a close trailing by 16-points, 20-36.
Erie received the ball to start the 3rd-Quarter.  They marched down the field in 9-plays and scored on a 2-yard run by Gavin Lusk to extend the Tiger lead after the failed PAT to 42-20.  The two teams would exchange interceptions on the next two possessions with Leslie Jordan getting his team-leading 2nd-interception on the year.  The 3rd-Quarter would come to a close with no more scoring from either team.     
In the 4th-Quarter, sophomore defensive end Nico Depizzol sacked Tiger quarterback Blake Barnett for a big loss; however, the Tigers would  regroup behind Barnett, and he would link up with senior Kaveh Meredith for the 13-yard TD reception and a 49-20 lead.  The fight was persistent in the Mustangs all night.  Again, Dietrich hooked up with wide receiver Bonner who fought his way in for his 2nd TD reception of the game. The final score was Mullen 26 and Erie 56. 
Though the score does not reflect it, the Mullen Mustangs are trending in the right direction and will continue to do so as the young ones grow and close the experience-gap with the talented upperclassmen on the roster.  It will happen, and Mullen will become more dangerous as confidence grows and dependability becomes second nature.  As Coach Bennett said to his players before boarding the bus home, “it will take everyone fighting for one another to get the win.”  Looking at the eyes staring back at Coach, it feels like that will be soon rather than later. 
Mullen travels to North Stadium in Westminster to take on Mountain Range High  School next Thursday at 7:30 PM.