The Mexico defense forced three turnovers and held Warrenton scoreless while the offense reached its highest point total of the season in a 22-0 victory on the road Friday night. The win moves the football Bulldogs to 2-4 overall.
"I'm pleased how our kids rebounded after last week. All in all it was a good win," said Mexico head coach Ty Harrison. "We need to take that momentum and keep competing."
The Bulldogs were without their leading rusher and leading scorer senior running back Jamel Taylor, sidelined with a strained MCL. Senior lineman Matt Pursley was also out for his second game with a hand injury from the Hannibal game.
Sophomore D'Milo Nunnelly and sophomore Karsten Ekern stepped up to combine with speedy quarterback Tyler Bracht to gain 220 yards on the ground for Mexico. Nunnelly had 18 carries for 132 yards and one touchdown.
"They (Nunnelly and Ekern) played well. They are different types of runners but both can be effective," Harrison said. "Also Caleb Quinlan stepped in at LT and did a nice job for us."
Mexico's first points came on a safety on Warrenton's first possession of the game. A deep kick by Cole Jaramillo put the Warriors (1-5) back at their own 10-yard line and a tough Bulldog defense forced them to punt from their 2-yard line. An errant snap went out of the end zone which put Mexico up 2-0.
On their second scoring play, the Bulldogs took over on downs at the 8:41 mark of the second quarter starting at the Warrenton 42 and working their way to the 6-yard line behind runs from Ekern, quarterback Tyler Bracht and help from a personal foul on Warrenton. A quarterback keeper by Bracht moved them to 2nd and goal from the 1-yard line.
Two plays later the Bulldogs were looking at 4th and goal from the 3 when Bracht connected with a wide open Matt Beauchamp in the end zone. A successful PAT by Jaramillo put Mexico up 9-0.
The Bulldogs came close to another score in the second quarter when a Nunnelly touchdown on a long run was called back on a holding call. Mexico was unable to score on that possession but the defense held off Warrenton and went into halftime with a 9-0 lead.
The Mexico defense locked down the Warriors through much of the first half only allowing a net total of 9 yards on offense and one first down, which came as a result of a Mexico penalty. For the game Warrenton had 66 yards passing and 118 rushing, although the majority of the yards came later in the game against Mexico subs.
"We were very good defensively. There were several critical stops defensively and the takeaways were huge," Harrison said. "The turnovers were especially good to see. We know what happens when you are on the wrong side of the turnover margin."
Page 2 of 2 - Midway through the third quarter Mexico put together an 11-play 68 yard scoring drive capped off by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Bracht to Skylar Harrington in the corner of the end zone. However the kick failed and the Bulldogs led 15-0 with 4:18 to go in the third quarter.
Just two plays later, Bracht intercepted a pass that went off the hands of the Warrenton receiver and Mexico was quick to capitalize needing just three plays of their own to get into the end zone again.
Nunnelly picked up a first down with an 11-yard run and Bracht moved the ball with a quarterback keeper before Nunnelly took off on a 50-yard touchdown run and Jaramillo kicked the extra point to give Mexico the 22-0 lead with 3:07 left in the third.
Warrenton had just started to get a little success moving the ball, picking up two first downs when Bracht came up with his second interception of the night near the end of the third quarter to stop their momentum.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter Warrenton took a Mexico punt and was able to pick up two first downs. The Warriors, plagued by penalties all night, were flagged for a false start that brought up a first and 15 at the 20-yard line. On the next play Mexico senior lineman Austin Oetting took the ball away from the Warrenton runner forcing their third turnover of the night and giving the Bulldogs the ball once again.
On the next series Mexico had another touchdown negated by a penalty, an area that still needs work according to Harrison.
"I think we are getting better in special teams but we had way too many penalties. Two touchdowns got called back on penalties. We can't beat ourselves," Harrison said.
Offensively Bracht finished with 40 yards passing, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions, which was an improvement from a rough week last week. The team also continued to be successful on the ground, even with Taylor out.
"I think we made strides offensively in our passing game," Harrison said. "I also think we had some kids step up that will give us more versatility and depth on offense."
Despite his injury, the outlook for Taylor is optimistic according to Harrison.
"He could have played, however he wasn't a 100 percent and I wanted to play it safe and give him some more time to rest it if we could," Harrison said. "He should be good to go this week."
Mexico will be on the road again next week when they take on NCMC conference foe Kirksville.
STATS LEADERS: PASSING: Bracht 4-10 for 40 yards and 2 TDs; RECEIVING: Harrington 1-13, Jaramillo 2-19, Beauchamp 1-8. RUSHING: Nunnelly 18-132, 1 TD; Bracht 20-64, Ekern 9-28. TACKLES: Ekern 13, Payton Turner 11, John Lummis 7, Johnny McDonald 7.