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Mustangs beat BCLUW for best start in 10 years

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - East Marshall quarterback Logan Bowie (16) and offensive lineman Tayte Nauman (58) look to turn the corner against BCLUW’s Logan Aicher (8) during Friday’s football game in Le Grand. East Marshall defeated the visiting Comets 20-6.

LE GRAND — East Marshall got off to a nightmare start Friday night.

Three plays into the game, the Mustangs lost a Logan Bowie fumble and set up BCLUW in plus territory. Four plays later, the Comets were in the end zone. Senior quarterback Jesse Moore ran it in from 10 yards out to put the Comets on top early, though they would get the extra point blocked.

It turned out to be the high point of the game for BCLUW (0-2) in a 20-6 Mustangs (2-0) win. The win pushed the Mustangs to their best start since 2010.

Head coach Greg Lee was happy with the way his team defended after that opening score.

“They had some big plays, but every time there was a big play we responded with two or three really big stops right after that,” Lee said. “They bent but didn’t break tonight.”

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - BCLUW quarterback Jesse Moore (6) leaves a pair of East Marshall defenders in his wake on his way into the end zone for the Comets’ only points in their 20-6 loss to the host Mustangs on Friday night in Le Grand.

The first quarter ended with a Comets lead of 6-0, but it ended with the Mustangs on the drive. The flexbone offense East Marshall utilizes had struggles in the early stages of the game, which Lee attributed to BCLUW’s defense staying tight and clogging the box. East Marshall adjusted by spreading wide receivers to the flanks in order to force BCLUW players out of the tackle box and to the edges. It worked to the tune of 177 rushing yards, led by 76 from sophomore Bo Lee on nine carries. Senior Samuel Bandstra finished with 69 yards on 16 carries, and Bowie had 35 yards on 14 carries. The Mustangs only threw for seven yards, but the ground attack was working well enough that they didn’t need to air it out.

Bandstra scored the first East Marshall touchdown on a short run with 6:25 left in the first half. Another missed extra point led to a 6-6 halftime score.

But in the third quarter, East Marshall took the lead. After multiple BCLUW drives had made it inside the East Marshall 20 yard line but came up empty, the Mustangs took command on a 20-yard run from Bo Lee on a sweep to the left. The call was close, as it looked as though his knee was down before reaching the pylon, but the score was given and a fumbled snap on the extra point led to Bandstra getting into the end zone and pushing the lead to 14-6.

Comets coach Dustin Grothoff said BCLUW made too many mistakes to come away with a win.

“We just kinda halted,” Grothoff said. “Giving up the ball four times, that’s just execution. I think that took us away in weeks 1 and 2, it’s just us right now. I still think that we can stay in a lot of ball games.”

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

Moore was the offensive hub for the Comets, running for 95 yards and throwing for 97. Nick Curl ran for 18 yards. BCLUW actually out-gained the Mustangs 206-184, but could not get into the end zone after a dream start to the game.

As frustration mounted on the Comets’ sidelines, the game slipped all the way out of reach on an Ethan Espenschied interception — which the East Marshall senior duly returned for the clinching touchdown with just 28 seconds left on the clock.

It was the final nail in the coffin for the Comets, and the celebrations were safe to begin for the senior-laden Mustangs — who find themselves growing in confidence by the day in a year unlike any other.

“I think it makes all the difference,” Lee said. “We’re really relying on the fact that we’ve got 10 seniors and seven juniors, and we oughta be able to mentally handle this situation and get on and play.”

The Mustangs play South Hardin on the road next week, while BCLUW visits Lynnville-Sully. Both games have a 7 p.m. kickoff.

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