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GOSHEN – For Mica Watson it was simple – beat the guy in front of you and everything else will take care of itself.
Watson, a North Oldham High School lineman, and the rest of the Mustangs’ front were able to do just that Friday as NOHS rolled by South Oldham 31-7.
“We just wanted to work harder than they did, that was our goal coming into the game,” Watson said. “We really thought if we could control the line, we could win.”
The Mustangs did just that with a simple, straight-forward running game and stingy defense to beat SOHS for the third straight year.
The 6-foot-2, 295-pound Watson helped lead a defensive stand in the second period that changed the flow of the game.
After SOHS had driven 66 yards to the Mustangs’ one. NOHS held on four straight downs to preserve a 14-0 lead headed into the half.
“They challenged us and came right at us,” Watson said. “It was the whole team. We knew we had to step up right there and stop them. We didn’t want them to get any momentum.”
On offense, Watson and the NOHS line helped spring backs Jakob Manor, Zach Price and Jerrett Link to a combined 217 yards rushing.
That trio led the Mustangs to their first score on NOHS’ first possession of the game. All three backs carried the ball for significant gains on a 60-yard scoring drive with Manor taking the ball over from the six to give NOHS a 7-0 lead with 4:17 left in the half.
The running game put up another score on the first possession of the second quarter.
Link provided the big play with a 28-yard run off a middle reverse and then an 11-yard run off right tackle to the SOHS eight where Manor took it over for a 14-0 lead.
While the NOHS running attack was eating ground and clock, the Mustangs’ defense was able to control the line and to harass SOHS quarterback Christian Wallace throughout the game.
SOHS rushed for just 66 yards and Wallace was limited to eight of 24 passing for 84 yards.
“The coaches did a great job of getting us prepared for what they were going to do,” NOHS middle linebacker Ryan Anderson said. “We knew we had to keep pressure on the quarterback because he can throw it and we did a pretty good job at that.”
NOHS was able to increase its lead to 17-0 on the opening drive of the second half when Luke Nolte hit a 33-yard field goal.
The Mustangs continued to run the ball well in the fourth quarter. NOHS got a 34-yard punt return to the 11 from Manor early in the fourth quarter. Two plays later, quarterback Austin Peterson took it in on a sweep around the left end for a 24-0 lead.
NOHS took advantage of a shanked SOHS punt that gave them the ball at their own 22 two series later. After Link put the ball to the 10, Austin Crawley gained nine more yards to the one and then took it over on the next play for a 31-0 lead.
The Dragons managed a score just before the game ended with a scoring drive against the NOHS JV defense.
Tailback Michael Gray took it over from the one just before the final horn.
“We had a really good defensive effort tonight,” NOHS coach Billy Martin said. “I thought we were very efficient on offense too. We kept the ball in our hands most of the night and really limited their scoring opportunities.”
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