After hosting the Aiken County Jamboree one week ago, Midland Valley still needed one more quarter Friday night to warm up.
Trailing after the first quarter, the Mustangs converted on fourth down, kick-starting their offense on the way to a 23-6 victory.
The Mustangs went three and out on their first two possessions before Allendale-Fairfax quarterback Antonio Fredericks burned the defense on an 81 yard touchdown pass to senior Rockiem Graham.
The score gave the Tigers a 6-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
Then the Mustangs ponied up. Less than two minutes into the second quarter Midland Valley looked destined for another stalled drive until junior quarterback Brett Godwin connected with junior Nick Cates for 17 yards on fourth-and-7. Senior tailback T.J. Rich capped the 70-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to take a 7-6 lead.
It was all Mustangs after that. Midland Valley struck again on its next possession as Godwin hit sophomore receiver A.J. Conklin for a 51-yard touchdown to take a 14-6 lead into halftime.
The Mustang's sealed the win in the second half with ball possession. After junior Terry Bradley tackled Allendale-Fairfax punter Ross Graham in the end zone for a safety, Midland Valley kept their offense on the field for just over eight minutes in the fourth quarter. Rich finished the drive with another touchdown run from five yards out .
"Ball possession has to be key for us this year," Mustangs coach Rick Knight said . "I'm proud of our boys for keeping their offense off the field, especially in this heat tonight."
The Mustangs' ability to control the clock came, in part, from T.J. Rich's dominance on the ground.
The 6-foot, 249-pound back rushed for 116 yards on 16 carries including two touchdowns and a 25-yard run that left two Tigers injured in his wake.
"That's been our plan all along," Knight said. "We're going to keep our big backs pounding inside."
The Mustangs (1-0) play host to South Aiken next Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Reach Billy Byler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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