CLARKSVILLE – —
CLARKSVILLE – Mildred’s attack offense slowed to a crawl in the second half. And that was a good thing.
Up three touchdowns, the Eagles didn’t need to show they could score at warp-speed. They showed they can change the pace, throw a punch, take one, then throw another.
This winning thing is expected now, and Mildred’s playing deep into the playoffs again after an impressive 44-14 win over Clarksville in the Region II-2A Division II regionals.
Clarksville, as advertised, had big-time athletes who were quick and fast. But Mildred, now 11-1, has played 25 games the last 15 months, and Friday was another example of how it could manage a formidable opponent and adjust to any style of play.
The Eagles will face Nocona (12-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Aledo, with the winner representing Region II in the state semifinals.
“I thought (our effort) was excellent,” said coach Patrick Harvell, who is now 46-13 in his fifth season at Mildred. “We played hard all night long, and the only disappointing aspect of the game was the number of penatlies. We had far too many.”
Mildred again bullied an opponent on the ground behind a cohesive offensive line, running up 347 yards on an astounding 57 carries. That total included four kneel-downs at the end of each half that cost the Eagles 24 yards.
Draylon Sterling was again the workhorse, carrying 24 times for 196 yards and a 16-yard touchdown as Mildred built a 30-6 lead out of the gates in the second half. But like last week when the Eagles ran for 356 in a 38-14 win over Cooper, the Eagles had strength in numbers.
Jeremy Ballard, who had three interceptions on defense, ran for 95 yards, and Nic Shimonek added 64 and three touchdowns from 1, 2 and 12 yards. The senior quarterback threw for 95 yards and two scores to Mikey Muncy.
The Eagles turned every one of Ballard’s interceptions into touchdowns. The senior ran his season total to 11. Mildred forced four total turnovers.
The first seven and a half minutes could not have been scripted any better for the Eagles.
On Clarksville’s opening possession, Taylor Barlow – who had a monster game at defensive tackle – and Nic Stone combined on a sack that moved Clarksville back to the 18, facing fourth down. The snap to the punter sailed into and out of the end zone, giving Mildred a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles needed just seven plays to make it 9-0 on a drive that ended with a 10-yard Shimonek to Muncy strike on a slant.
The Blue Tigers’ next drive last three plays, and started with a 15-yard sack of TJ Tinnell by Mildred’s other tackle, Thomas Finigmow, who also had a big game. On third down, Ballard got his first pick at the Clarksville 31, and eight plays later Shimonek scored from a yard out to make it 16-0.
Late in the first, Clarksville showed its explosiveness when Devontray Forte found a gap and went 39 yards into Mildred territory. The Blue Tigers got on the board with a 37-yard Tinnell-to-Kelton Scales pass as the senior wide receiver slipped past Sterling in the secondary.
Forte had 93 yards on his first nine carries, but ended with 83 on 13.
The Eagles botched the ensuing kick return, started at their own three, and Clarksville had a chance to get back in the game. But Mildred embarked on a 10-play, 97-yard drive that featured two Sterling runs for first downs, and Shimonek pass of 12 yards to Jase Butler on third-and-9 and ended with a 2-yard Shimonek score to make it 23-6.
Mildred was flagged for roughing the kicker late in the second, and Clarksville drove to 17 before Mildred stiffened.
After Mildred scored to open the third, Forte was leveled by Barlow for a three-yard loss on Clarksville’s first play of the second half. His final three carries went for -3, -3 and -4.
“The past two weeks our front four guys have done a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage and making plays,” Harvell said.
Ballard’s second pick set up a 33-yard drive, one that ended with a 12-yard Shimonek sprint as he held his ground in the pocket on third-and-7, then bolted to the end zone at the last minute as Michael Turner closed in on him.
Clarksville answered quickly with another Tinnell-to-Scales strike, but Mildred was able to deny the Blue Tigers the rest of the night.
Mildred’s final score came on a fourth-and-5 as Shimonek found Muncy on a trailing route from 17 yards away with 2:44 to go in the game.
Mildred 44, Clarksville 14
Mildred 16 7 14 7 — 44
Clarksville 0 6 8 0 — 14
M — Safety, snap out of end zone, 10:34
M — Mikey Muncy 10 pass from Nic Shimonek (O’Sullivan kick), 8:47
M — Shimonek 1 run (O’Sullivan kick), 4:29
C — Kelton Scales 37 pass from TJ Tinnell (run failed), 11:00
M — Shimonek 2 run (O’Sullivan kick), 7:26
M — Sterling 16 run (O’Sullivan kick), 9:04
M — Shimonek 12 run (O’Sullivan kick), 2:06
C — Scales 12 pass from Tinnell (Scales from Tinnell), :52
M — Muncy 17 pass from Shimonek (O’Sulliva kick), 2:14
First downs 20 14
Rush-yards 57-347 26-89
Passing yards 95 200
C-A-I 7-14-0 9-20-3
Fumbles-lost 2-0 3-1
Punts-avg. 3-40 1-41
Penalties-yards 11-106 10-65
Rushing — M: Draylon Sterling 24-196, Jeremy Ballard 8-95, Nic Shimonek 17-64, Raleigh Seilheimer 2-16. C: Devontray Forte 13-83, Kelton Scales 3-10, Devon Sanders 1-1, TJ Tinnell 9-(-5).
Passing — M: Shimonek 7-14-0-95. C: Tinnell 8-17-2-182, Lonnie Hobbs 1-3-1-18.
Receiving — M: Jase Butler 1-12, Raleigh Seilheimer 1-26, Mikey Muncy 2-27, Jonathan Harrison 1-10, Draylon Sterling 2-20. C: Gary Moore 4-109, Kelton Scales 2-51,, Gher-Mayne Moore 2-37, Forte 1-13.