By Michael Kinney
For the Mustang seniors it meant everything. After three-straight years of owning Yukon, there was no way they weren’t going to show up in full force when the two teams squared off Friday in the season opener.
Led by a staunch defense and the big plays of Damien Close and Carlos Thomas, the Broncos drilled the Millers 31-14 at Bronco Stadium. Unless they meet in the postseason, the senior class at MHS ended their careers undefeated against their rivals.
“It means a lot to me as a senior,” Close said. “Getting the four-peat.”
Thomas agreed with his fellow senior.
“It means a lot,” Thomas said. “It’s more than a goal, but more of a ritual. I felt like we succeeded in continuing that ritual.”
Brayden Garrett threw for 120 yards and two touchdowns on 9 of 12 passing. Thomas ran for 96 yards on 16 carriers. He didn’t reach the end zone, but his running helped set up everything the MHS offense was able to do.
“I just trusted in my guys,” Thomas said. “I had zero touchdowns. But that didn’t matter. I know we can win without me. This offense is just as good with me as they are without me.”
After coming up empty on the opening drive, Mustang got its offense going on their second possession.
Broncos went for it on fourth and three with 5:11 left in the first quarter. Yukon, however, jumped off-sides, and gave the Broncos the ball on the 11 yard line.
Two plays later, Mason Lowe took a handoff and weaved his way into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown run. Mustang led 7-0 with 4:22 left in the opening quarter.
Mustang wasn’t done there. Close ripped off a 30-yard scoring run in the second quarter to give MHS a 14-0 advantage.
Yukon was getting gashed with inside runs. But it was Thomas’ ability to shed tackles and pick up yards after contact that made the Broncos tough to stop.
Conversely, the Millers offense was out of step. The times they were able to get a big play in the run game, penalty flags would fly. Or players were unable to make crucial plays when needed.
Mustang took a 17-0 advantage into halftime.
The Broncos came out of the intermission looking to put the contest away. After the defense came up with a stop and forced the Millers to punt, MHS took over near midfield.
Garrett then hit a wide open Close on the sideline. Close then broke a tackle and strutted into the end zone. Mustang grabbed a 24-0 lead with 9:31 left in the quarter.
That put the Millers in a hurry-up situation, which their offense is not built for. While they kept plugging away at the run with Perry Olsen and fullback Noah Davis, Yukon did take shots down field to wide out Carvell McKinley. However, he and Olsen were unable to connect.
On the Millers second possession of the second half, they went on a punishing offensive drive. It took up the rest of the quarter and got them down to the Broncos 11 yard line.
However, Yukon found themselves with a fourth and two to start the fourth quarter. Olsen tried to run for the first but was stopped inches before the marker.
Mustang took over on downs and drove down the field and Close reached the end zone for the third time to put the game away.
Along with three scores, Close had four catches for 96 yards in what he said is a sign of things to come.
“It’s going to be the same thing every game,” Close said. “Just keep doing my thing.”
Mustang held Yukon to a total of 263 yards. That includes only 24 through the air.
The Broncos look to continue their defensive performance when they host Norman next week.
“It definitely sends us on an up-hill climb,” Mustang’s Cooper Meadow said. “We’ve got to keep going. We have another game next week. We have to come out and go again.”