The Mineral County High football team welcomed an old rival to town Friday night when they took the field for the first time in the 2015 season against Tonopah.
The two schools, which hadn’t met in the regular season in well over a decade, played a tight contest most of the night before the Muckers pulled away in the second half and won the game 49-30.
“We had our opportunities to come away with a win, but I’m proud of the way our team played,” said Mineral County coach Curt McElroy. “It could’ve gone either way.”
Getting off to a quick start was something McElroy stressed to his players before kickoff, and they responded. After stopping Tonopah on its first drive, the Serpents struck on its very first play on offense when senior running back Michael Smith carried the ball 60 yards for a touchdown to put his team up 6-0.
But the Muckers running game responded early and often. Tonopah ran the ball 38 times for a total of 358 yards and five scores, including two from Scott May who finished the game with 189 yards on the ground. May also caught three passes, one for a touchdown, to give the senior three on the night.
“We could’ve played better at the linebacker position, we gave them too many holes to run through,” McElroy said. “Our offensive line played well at times, but there are some areas we need to improve on. As the coach, I put this loss on me.”
Despite its woes on defense, Mineral County had plenty of bright spots for the Hawthorne fans to cheer about. Quarterback Brandon West threw for 155 yards and connected with three different receivers, Smith, Mario Ramos and Andre Davis for touchdowns. Smith finished the game with 163 total yards, two touchdowns and four two-point conversions.
On the other side of the ball, Ramos and Spencer Benjamin each recorded a sack, and Davis led the Serpents with nine tackles.
Mineral County (0-1) will try to put that loss behind them now and turn their attention to Friday night when they travel to Wells (0-2) in search of their first win of the young season. The Leopards were edged by Round Mountain last week 34-32 after being blasted by powerhouse Pahranagat Valley the week before 62-20. The last time the two schools met was in 2011 in Wells where the Serpents came away with a 42-24 win.
“I’ve watched their game with Round Mountain and have a pretty good handle on them,” McElroy said of the Leopards. “We just need to come out, play our game and put four quarters together. I think we’re a pretty damn good football team.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.