Coming off back-to-back victories, expectations for the Spartans were high heading into last weekend’s matchup with the Mt. Ida Mustangs. With both teams sitting at 2-2, this game was an opportunity for either the Spartans or Mustangs to secure a winning record.
“This is a chance to show the conference what we’re made of,” said senior tight end, Nick Boles, prior to the game. “I hope we can ride the momentum that we built up into this one. I can’t say for sure but I definitely have a good feeling about this week.”
His feelings were correct as the Spartans delivered with a 35-31 victory over the Mustangs at home to extend their win streak to three in a row.
But the Spartans started slow.
They let up a touchdown on Mt. Ida’s first drive of the game, and went three and out on their corresponding offensive possession. However, the Mustangs then had a three and out of their own and the Spartans were able to capitalize on a bad Mt. Ida punt (28 yards) that set them up only 34 yards from the end zone.
After three Moe Harris rushes, Castleton elected to go for it on fourth and three, giving the ball to Harris again, who picked up 10 yards on his only reception of the game. The next play saw sophomore wideout Jermaine Coggins secure a great 50-50 catch in the endzone for his second touchdown of the season to tie the game 7-7.
The Spartans got another stop and came out firing, once again. Junior quarterback Mitch Caron threw for 48 yards and rushed for a five-yard touchdown on the next drive to put the Spartans up 14-7.
It looked like Mt. Ida would answer on the next drive, but they failed to put points on the board after a 12-play drive. The Spartans defense held strong on the one-yard line to stop them short on third and fourth down.
The next drive for Mt. Ida was much less disappointing. Mustang running back De’andre Goldson-Fisher ran for a 36-yard touchdown on the first play, but the Mustangs missed the extra point, which left the Spartans sitting on a 1-point lead at 14-13.
After another Spartans three and out, the Mustangs capped off a seven-play 72-yard drive with a 20-yard strike from Mike Pina, but this time failed to convert on a two-point try, giving them a 19-14 lead heading into the half.
Aside from the goal-line stop, the Spartans defense appeared to be struggling to keep up with the Mustangs. In the first half, Goldson-Fisher had no trouble finding room to run. He racked up 122 yards on 11 carries (11 yards per carry) and one touchdown. The Spartans needed to make some adjustments.
“We changed our in-game plan and went back to our basic defense,” confessed junior linebacker, Grant Cummings. “It basically allowed us to play harder and think less. It definitely brought our defensive morale up a lot.”
It showed because the second half was a different story. They held the electric running back to just 41 yards on his next 12 carries (3.4 yards per carry) and Castleton proved they still had some tricks up their sleeves on offense as well. They opened up the second half by successfully pulling off a flea flicker on their first play. The play resulted in a 63-yard touchdown pass from Caron to junior wideout Adnane Adossama to put the Spartans up 21-19.
It is fair to say that this was Caron’s best game of the season through the air. He went 12-16, had a 75 percent completion percentage, threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns, all season bests, while adding five rushes for 18 yards and one touchdown on his way to earning the ECFC’s offensive player of the week.
After the flea flicker, there was not much to speak of in the third quarter besides a blocked Castleton field goal. It was mostly a defensive battle.
Almost the entire fourth quarter consisted of an 18-play nine-minute drive that saw the Mustangs push 96 yards down field and score a touchdown that put them in the lead at 25-21.
With 3:35 left in the game, the Spartans barely seemed fazed. It took less than two minutes for Castleton to score. A 28-yard Caron to Adossama connection and a 20-yard Moe Harris touchdown run highlighted the drive.
It was the Mustangs move, but they stalled. Castleton’s defense could not have picked a better time to come in clutch with a three and out stop.
As soon as the Spartans got the ball back it was game over. The only play of the drive was a 42-yard Moe Harris touchdown run to seal the victory with just one minute to go.
Mt. Ida proceeded to score a desperation touchdown but simply had no time to complete a comeback. Final score: Spartans 35 Mustangs 31.
After the game, Boles was eager to follow up his previous statements.
“Told you man,” he said with a laugh.