MOUNT PLEASANT - It may have been Senior Night for the Mount Pleasant football team, but it was also Dalton Miller’s night, as the junior running back scored four touchdowns in a 33-19 home win over Montgomery Central Friday night.
“We played hard,” said Tigers coach Mike Johns. “We kept pushing, and we kept pushing, and we kept pushing. We finally got over the hump, and this is a big defining moment for our seniors and our team.”
The win ended a four-game losing streak for the Cream of Cabarrus-No. 6 Tigers, who also notched their first conference victory of the season.
Miller ran for 226 yards, with most of that damage occurring in the second half.
Tied at halftime 13-13, the Tigers opened the third quarter rushing seven times for 77 yards. Miller had 52 of those yards, including an 8-yard scamper for a touchdown.
In their next drive, they again rushed seven times in their eight-play drive. Miller had 45 yards that drive, highlighted by a 35-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Ryan Tyson tacked on 31 yards that drive.
“I was trusting my offensive line,” Miller said. “They did a great job, and I couldn’t be more proud of them and this team to get this win.”
The Tigers defense also dominated, excluding one big play. In the first half, it held the Timberwolves to 56 yards rushing. On the first offensive play in the second half, Darrien Little scored on a 53-yard rushing touchdown to cut the deficit 20-19.
After that run, the Mount Pleasant defense only allowed 35 rushing yards and held quarterback Aiden Watts to 2-for-6 passing for 13 yards in the second half.
“Our defense played spectacular,” Johns said. “We did a great job, and I’m proud of our secondary. They really stepped it up in the second half.”
In the fourth quarter, the defense stopped Montgomery Central twice on fourth down. With 7:17 left in the game, Miller “put the icing on the cake,” as Johns said, with a 54-yard touchdown run to put the game at its eventual final score.
Montgomery Central 3-7 overall, 1-3 Rocky River 2A Conference; Mount Pleasant 3-7, 1-2
THE PLAY OF THE GAME
Up by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Miller already had three touchdowns to his credit. His fourth, however, was his most spectacular run and pushed the lead to two possessions.
Near midfield, Miller took the handoff and ran straight into a pile of players. He bounced off to the right and juked out one defender. He sprinted down the field and broke another tackle 10 yards later. Heading down the sideline, one last defender tried to trip him up, but he high-stepped over the diving tackler. After that, he strolled into the end zone.
-- Watts threw for 10-for-26 for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
-- Receiver Harris Jackson had four catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
--Drew Brewer recorded a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss.
-- Tyson threw for 139 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 86 yards.
-- Defensive back Chris Earnhardt snagged an interception in the fourth quarter to cement the victory.
-- The Tigers defense did a great job stopping the run, but it also impacted the passing game. Mount Pleasant forced Watts multiple times to run for his life and throw the ball away, especially on third and fourth down.
-- With the exception of a fumble on a handoff exchange, the Tigers offense did a great job securing the ball and not giving away turnovers.
-- It was the first cold game of the season, and it’s a badge of honor to wear shorts in cold weather games. Defensive backs coach Tim Neel, defensive line coach Greg Furr, and equipment manager Grady Little were tougher than everyone else in the stadium.
Montgomery Central travels to Albemarle, and Mount Pleasant rounds out the season at West Stanly.
Montgomery Central 0 13 6 0 — 19
Mount Pleasant 7 6 13 7 — 33
MP - Sawyer Osbourne 37 pass from Ryan Tyson (Owen Prifti kick)
MC - Harris Jackson 46 pass from Aiden Watts (kick failed)
MP - Dalton Miller 8 run (run failed)
MC - Jackson 20 pass from Watts (John Hernandez kick)
MP - Miller 8 run (Prifti kick)
MC - Darrien Little 53 run (kick failed)
MP - Miller 35 run (2-pt conversion failed)
MP - Miller 54 run (Prifti kick)