Battle sets goals for each game. One is to force at least three turnovers each game.
The goal was set as a joint decision by the players and the coaches. There is no reward if Battle reaches that mark.
The Spartans get a congratulations for doing their job, because coach Justin Conyers believes if the defense can force at least three turnovers it puts the offense in a good position.
On Friday, Battle did one, or seven, better. The defense forced a school record 10 turnovers, eight fumbles and two interceptions.
The Spartans defeated Mexico 68-14. That’s also a school record in points.
“Hats off to that defense,” Conyers said. “I wouldn’t have dad it any other way, than to have those guys play the way they are playing at that level right now.”
Friday's performance wasn't a complete shock to Conyers. He had been impressed by his defense way before Friday night’s game. He began to see how dynamic the defense could be back when they opened team camp at University of Central Missouri.
He knew what he had back, he knew they would be fast, but what he saw made him think that group could be special.
“I feel like this is the fastest defense we’ve had in our five years,” Conyers said. “Their tenacity to get to the ball and cause those turnovers will pay dividends as we progress throughout the season.”
In Friday’s game the Spartans held Mexico (0-1) to just 54 yards on the ground and 68 yards of total offense.
Their dominant outing began on the first drive when the Spartans (1-0) had Mexico in a fourth-and-27 from its own two-yard line.
The Bulldogs first two plays were a false start and an illegal shift, followed by a five-yard tackle for a loss, which was almost a safety.
“They really wanted that safety,” Conyers said. “They want to score defensive points.”
Defensive lineman Jarel Hyler added: "We had a lot of responsibility coming in. We trust our offense a lot, but we wanted to give them a big momentum booster,” defensive lineman Jarel Hyler said.
Mexico punted, but the ball did not clear the 20-yard line, Dreyton Tyler scored three plays later from 16-yards out. Mexico never recovered, turning the ball over on each of its next four possessions.
“I knew their defense was tough, but I thought we would be able to move the ball," Mexico coach Steve Haag said. "A big thing we talked about was that we couldn't hurt ourselves. That first drive we were first-and-20 by moving. Our guys were just a little bit nervous."
Mexico was led by Dylan Nichols who finished with 23 rushing yards. Cameron Holman scored the Bulldogs lone offensive touchdown, with a 2-yard run in the third quarter.
While Mexico’s offense sputtered, Battle’s defense put its offense in good field position and the Spartans' offense did the rest.
Tyler, who finished with four touchdowns, two on the ground and two in the air, and 85 total yards, scored on the next possession from six yards out.
“There were a lot of holes. Our receivers and line are one of the best in the state and I truly believe that,” Tyler said. “They opened up holes for me, that’s all it was.”
Jaren Lewis, who started his first game at quarterback for the Spartans, finished 9 for 18 with three touchdowns and two interceptions. On the ground the new duo of Nate Ferguson and Darren Jordan each scored a touchdown, Ferguson finished with 64 yards and Jordan, a sophomore, had 89.
As well as the offense played, the defense stood out throughout the game. Haag said he doesn’t think Mexico will face a team better than Battle all season, which will help the Bulldogs.
Conyers thinks the defense can continue to improve.
“This is a big confidence booster, but we know we still have things to work on. Always,” linebacker Tre Morris said.
No matter what happens in the future, on Friday night the Battle defense shined from start to finish.
“It was the energy and the passion they played with, from the moment they stepped on the field you could feel it,” Conyers said. “They set the tone for the game tonight.”