MENDOTA – Trailing high-powered Princeton by just a 7-0 count after a whacky first quarter had Mendota feeling pretty good about itself. Then came the second quarter.
The Tigers were suddenly uncaged in the second stanza as they tallied an astounding 49 points on their way to a 70-21 triumph over the Trojans in Three Rivers Conference East Division action on Sept. 16 at the MHS field.
The loss evened Mendota’s records at 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the league, while Princeton remained undefeated at 4-0, 2-0.
In what can be described as a bizarre first quarter saw only one touchdown scored, that by the Tigers. A Mendota onside kick to open the game was recovered by the Trojans’ Isaac Smith, only to have Princeton recover a fumble on Mendota’s first play from scrimmage. Then on Princeton’s first offensive play of the night, it fumbled and Mendota’s Angil Serrano pounced on it at Mendota’s 43-yard line. Oh, and a dog ran onto the field, briefly halting play.
Things finally settled down, and the Tigers tallied the only touchdown of the first quarter on a 17-yard pass from Teegan Davis to Andrew Peacock with 8:39 left in the first. Carlos Benavidez added the extra-point kick.
The rest of the first period went scoreless, although the Trojans had a great scoring opportunity when Princeton fumbled the ball away to Mendota for a second time, this time recovered by Dean Gilbert at the Tiger 29-yard line. After the first quarter ended, Serrano attempted a 29-yard field goal that just sailed wide left.
After that, the Tigers went wild. There were eight touchdowns scored in the second quarter, seven of them by Princeton. Four of the seven were on long pass plays from Davis to his big 6-4 target Noah LaPorte.
Taking over at their own 20 after the missed field goal, Davis and LaPorte hooked up for an 80-yard touchdown strike, followed by a Benavidez PAT to make it 14-0.
Mendota turned the ball over on downs on its ensuing possession at the Princeton 46-yard line, and the Tigers needed just five plays to find the end zone, capped off by a 39-yard TD run by Davis. Benavidez’s kick was good.
The Trojans got on the board on their next series and it took just one play – a 70-yard touchdown scamper by Anthony Childs at the 6:25 mark. Serrano’s extra-point kick made it 21-7.
With half of the second quarter gone, it seemed unfathomable that 35 more points could be scored, but indeed it happened, and all on the Princeton side of the scoreboard.
Mendota’s kick after its touchdown went just 8 yards and Princeton took possession at the Trojan 48. On the first play, Davis found LaPorte for a 48-yard TD strike, followed by a Benavidez PAT.
Princeton got the ball back 22 seconds later when LaPorte intercepted a deflected pass from Justin Randolph at the Mendota 39. Six plays later, Davis squirted into the end zone from the 1-yard line and Benavidez kicked the extra point.
The Trojan offense turned the ball over on downs on its next possession and Princeton needed less than a minute to go 40 yards, the final play being a 13-yard pass from Davis to LaPorte with 2:48 left in the half. Benavidez was perfect on the PAT kick.
The Tigers had two more interceptions before halftime and turned both into scores. Brady Byers got one at his own 35 and then the Davis-to-LaPorte connection struck again, this time for a 65-yard TD. Then with 23 seconds left, Davis, who’s headed to Eastern Illinois University next year, swiped a pass and returned it 42 yards to paydirt. Benavidez hit both extra-point kicks and Princeton took a 56-7 lead to the locker room.
With the more than 40-point separation, the entire second half was played with a running clock.
Each team scored a third-quarter touchdown. Mendota’s was a 68-yard pass from Randolph to Ryne Strouss. Serrano added the PAT kick.
Princeton answered when Peacock found the end zone from 53 yards out. Benavidez’s kick split the uprights.
The same held true in the fourth, as both teams put a TD on the board.
Casey Etheridge had a 19-yard touchdown scamper for the Tigers and Benavidez completed a perfect night kicking.
Mendota scored the final touchdown on a 72-yard pass from Randolph to Childs with 1:49 left. Serrano booted the extra point.
The Trojans finished with 298 total yards compared to 535 for Princeton. Childs ran it 15 times for 111 yards, while Randolph completed 6 of 17 passes for 174 yards. Childs, Strouss and Smith each had two receptions.
Davis was a perfect 8 of 8 passing for 310 yards. LaPorte reeled in four aerials for 206 yards.