AIKEN -- It seemed Midland Valley received the spark plug it needed on the first play of the second half.
With the score tied 7-7, the Mustangs Tyron Vinson fielded the opening kickoff on his goal line and returned the kick 66 yards to the South Aiken 34, setting up the go-ahead touchdown and helping the Mustangs to a 21-19 win over arch-rival South Aiken on Friday night at Hagood Stadium.
"I think first of all my offensive line did a good job blocking on that play (opening kickoff)," Vinson said. "That was the only way I was able to pick up those 66 yards on the kickoff."
But the win was far from easy for the Mustangs. After Midland Valley built a commanding 21-7 lead in the third quarter, South Aiken rallied late in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns by quarterback Tommy McCullough to make it 21-19.
The Thoroughbreds had one last chance late in the game to pull out the victory. After the Thoroughbred defense had pinned the Mustangs deep in their own territory, they forced a punt and took over at midfield with five minutes left in the contest.
South Aiken penetrated to the Mustang 5 before a costly fumble on third down moved the ball to the Midland Valley 13. But the Mustangs dodged a bullet when the Thoroughbreds missed a 30yard field goal attempt with less than a minute remaining in the contest.
"I know they (South Aiken) wanted this game badly," Vinson said. "But we had some people play hard and they made the plays on defense."
After the opening second-half kickoff, the Mustangs marched 34 yards on eight plays to break the 7-7 tie. David Edney found Chris Carlton in the right corner of the end zone for a 14-yard strike and a 14-7 lead.
On the ensuing extra point, Kaney picked up the low snap, ran to his left and dashed down the sidelines for the two-point conversion and a 15-7 advantage.
Then with the momentum on their side, the Mustangs recovered a South Aiken fumble on the ensuing kickoff, taking over firstand-goal at the Thoroughbred five-yard line. On the next play, running back Pele Williams powered his way to the end zone for a 21-7 lead.