MECHANICSBURG – Often times, football becomes a war of attrition. Inches give way to yards and as time ticks by, the better team prevails. Such was the case Friday night, when unbeaten Mechanicsburg defeated West Liberty-Salem, 31-0, in sloppy, soggy conditions.
“They played a defense that begged us to throw the ball tonight. We’ve got to fight through the conditions a little better and take advantage of opportunities,” MHS Coach Kurt Forrest said. “We didn’t really do that in the first half, but our kids found a way to come out and get things done.”
The Indians opened with a touchdown midway through the first quarter on the opening possession of the game, capitalized with a Kaleb Romero one-yard run.
While the West Liberty-Salem offense struggled to pick up first downs, the Mechanicsburg offense kept churning away, scoring on a Romero four-yarder early in the second quarter.
M’burg finally made a couple of back-breaking plays late in the second quarter, ripping off a 51-yard run by Dustin Knapp and finishing the two-play, 80-yard drive with a 29-yard scoring run on the next play by Romero.
It was 18-0 at halftime thanks to a missed extra point kick and a pair of failed two-point conversions.
The second half was largely gridlock until the Indians were able to grind out another scoring drive early in the fourth quarter, capped off with a 12-yard pass from Romero to Joey Mascadri to make it 24-0 after yet another failed two-pointer.
West Liberty-Salem made two big plays after the intermission – one a large run by quarterback Luke Woods and another, a big gain on a halfback pass. However, both plays were called back due to holding penalties.
“My guys played from whistle to whistle and did everything we asked. I’m extremely proud of their effort,” WL-S Coach Dan McGill said.
Late in the game, penalties again killed the Tigers. WL-S picked up a pass interference call and two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties before the next snap, giving the Indians prime field position.
Mechanicsburg converted that short field into its final score, a two-yard scamper up the middle by Knapp. The Indians finally put a PAT on the board with a successful kick and activated the running clock with just over a minute remaining.
“Our offensive line is very experienced and talented group. I was just glad to see our guys play for 48 minutes to see how they did. They kept wearing them down and wearing them down,” Forrest said.
For the game, Romero had 93 yards passing and 194 rushing on 24 carries. Knapp had 133 yards on 16 carries. The Indians out-gained WL-S, 420 yards to 82.
Next Friday night, the Indians (6-0, 3-0) play at Catholic Central and WL-S (2-4, 1-2) hosts Cedarville.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.