Mustangs strike back!

Mustangs strike back!

The Indiana Mustangs (7 – 3) knocked off previously undefeated Indiana Generals 18 – 9 at Arsenal Tech High School during round two of the Mid States Football League playoffs.  The Mustangs were without the services of their starting quarterback and offensive coordinator, Eric Hooks as he was attending his wedding on Saturday which also resulted in a number of Mustang players arriving late to the game.  The Generals took advantage of the missing Mustang players and defensive coordinator by scoring on their opening drive to take an early 7 – 0 lead.  Following this  drive, the Mustangs defense shutdown the explosive Generals’ offense with big hits by Dontae Crook, Jovan McCray, Dontae Hart, Junior McKinnie, Carlton Summler, Paul Carter and Anthony Weather.

The Mustangs offense was led at quarterback by former 2005 Indiana Mr. Football Dexter Taylor (Warren Central and Marian U.) and All Conference defensive back Paul Carter (Northwest and U. of St. Francis) as both players did a masterful job sharing the quarterback duties especially considering the Mustangs were also without their all-star center Mario SiFuentes.  The Mustangs offensive strategy was simple – eliminate turnovers, shorten the game by running the football and keep the score close.  The Mustangs had five turnovers in their earlier loss to the Generals at the end of the regular season, and neither quarterback threw an interception on Saturday night.  The Mustangs used running backs James Sharp, Jerimy Finch, Erick Harper and Jovan McCray to surprise the Generals with a running game.

The Mustangs scored late in the first quarter on a two-yard run by Jerimy Finch (Warren Central and Marian U.).  The PAT was blocked, and the Generals held onto a narrow 7 – 6 lead.  In the closing minutes just prior to halftime, the stadium went completely dark similar to last year’s Super Bowl, forcing a twenty-minute delay before the lights could be restored.

The Mustangs were unable to capitalize coming out of the second half with the football as the offense continued to struggle with execution and communication problems.  On the Mustangs second possession of the second half, Dexter Taylor found Paul Carter on third down and long, and Carter made a spectacle acrobatic reception only to have the football jarred loose at mid-field.  However, the Mustangs were able to rely on their stingy defense to shutdown the rejuvenated Generals.

Early in the fourth quarter, Paul Carter scored on a quarterback sneak to take a 12 – 7 lead.  The Generals came roaring back on their next possession when the Generals receiver beat the Mustangs secondary for a forty-yard reception.  While nearly to the end zone, the Generals receiver was tracked down from behind by Anthony Weather who stripped the football loose as it fumbled out of the end zone, forcing a touchback and giving the football back to the Mustangs.  The Mustangs scored on the next possession when Paul Carter found 6’4” Kyle Wimberly (Warren Central) for a twenty-yard touchdown reception and an 18 – 7 lead.  With three minutes left in the game, the Mustangs took a safety, and the defense stepped up again led by a first down sack by Dontae Crook and another jolting hit by Junior McKinnie.  The Mustangs stopped the Generals on downs to preserve the victory.  Jerimy Finch, Anthony Weather and Jovan McCray each finished the night with an interception.

The Mustangs will now advance to the Eastern Conference Championship to face the Chicago Mustangs next Saturday.  The Chicago Mustangs only loss this year was to the Indiana Mustangs 41 – 38 in a shootout at Arsenal Tech HS.  The Chicago Mustangs defeated the Chicago Thunder 16 – 7 in their playoff game, and they are looking forward to hosting the rematch in Chicago.  Ironically, the MSFL has three teams using the name of Mustangs, and all three teams won their playoff games last weekend while two previously undefeated teams lost including defending league champions Racine Raiders.

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