AIKEN - After having been shut out by a combined score of 21-0 in its first two games, Aiken was desperate to score a touchdown any way it could get one.
The Hornets didn't have any problem becoming reacquainted with the end zone in Friday's 41-0 win over visiting Midland Valley.
Aiken amassed 328 rushing yards and held the Mustangs to 8 yards passing to earn its first victory of the season.
"We scored some points; I just hope we didn't use them all up," said Hornets coach Carey Johnson. "I hope the well doesn't get dry the next couple of weeks."
The Hornets moved the ball whenever and wherever they wanted. Quarterback Whit Corley, who sat out last season because of disciplinary reasons, passed for 60 yards and rushed for two touchdowns.
Corley played smart by knowing when to pitch and when to tuck it and run. The senior took a keeper to score his team's first touchdown of the season, then he kept right again for a 2-yard score to give Aiken a 21-0 halftime cushion.
"I'd been wanting that first touchdown a long time, I tell you that," Corley said. "Last year, I couldn't play, so I've really been waiting on it."
In between Corley's scores, Midland Valley committed two costly gaffes. Five plays into the second quarter, Traver Toole lined up for a 42-yard field goal that, if successful, would have cut the score to 7-3.
But Larry Anderson raced untouched from left end, and the kick never had a chance. Anderson blocked it, recovered the ball and dashed 68 yards down the left sideline to give his team a 14-0 lead.
Two possessions later, the Mustangs (0-3) put the ball on the turf and the Hornets put the game away. Lawrence Quiller fumbled and Daniel Willis recovered at the 27, allowing for Corley's 2-yard keeper.
In the second half, Aiken's reserves had plenty of playing time and room to run.
"I didn't expect our offensive line to dominate like that," Johnson said. "Midland Valley is big; they're strong; and I know they're going to be well-coached."
The Hornets' confidence was somewhat shaken after their first two games, when Richland Northeast and Colquitt County dealt them back-to-back shutouts.
This time, the Hornets were on the winning end of a shutout.
"The first two games really got us mad," said Corley, whose team didn't punt. "We told everybody on the team, 'If we don't win tonight, we ain't ever going to win.' We're starting off a new season right here. This is us."
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or email@example.com.