Playing Maiden is like trying to avoid that unwanted kiss from an aunt.
You know itâ€™s comingâ€¦ you just donâ€™t know how to stop it, as the North Lincoln Knights found out in a 42-6 loss at the Dungeon Friday night.
The Blue Devils received favorable field position via turnovers or Petey McClainâ€™s sensational punt returns, surging out to a 21-0 lead through the first quarter of play.
Robert Cox set up Maidenâ€™s first score partially blocking a punt, that five plays later led to Tommy Henryâ€™s first touchdown of the night.
McClain was a big play waiting to happen each time the ball was in his hands. On the night, McClain averaged over 20 yards per catch with his biggest one coming in the second quarter.
Blue Devilsâ€™ quarterback Vantrel England hit McClain on the right sideline and let his receiver do the rest, as McClain outran the Knightsâ€™ secondary for a 45-yard touchdown.
Henry gained 87 yards on just 10 carries with three touchdowns.
His final touchdown of the night came via a spin move and heavy leg-drive, as he willed his way into the end zone through three Knightsâ€™ defenders.
The most explosive play of night came off a booming punt by Kyle Baker.
McClain picked up the ball on the bounce and ran it across the field from sideline to sideline.
One stiff arm later and three angles outran, McClain had turned in an 84 punt return for a score and his night was over.
â€œHeâ€™s something else. They have three good weapons on there, but the pick of my bunch is Petey McClain. Heâ€™s got gears on him, can change directions and just one of the toughest kids to tackle,â€ North Lincoln defensive coordinator Wes Beam said.
â€œItâ€™s just the team. They block and whatever comes to my headâ€”I just do it. I donâ€™t really think,â€ McClain said.
Two bright spots for the Knights were sophomore tight end David Ward and freshman defensive end Zack Miller.
Ward caught two passes for 36 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown reception.
Miller sacked quarterback Andrew Bolick back-to-back times in the fourth quarter.
First-year head coach Matt Beam, whose debut was spoiled, felt there was one redeeming thing despite the loss.
â€œI donâ€™t think my kids quit and thatâ€™s important. When youâ€™re down like that itâ€™s easy to say, â€˜Ah, man letâ€™s take this beating,â€™â€ Beam said. â€œAfter halftime, it was 7-6 and I know pulled it off a little bit and I appreciated that, but the only one they scored was we have a 65-yard kick and donâ€™t go down there and cover it,â€ he added.
Head coach Tom Brown pulled his starters midway through the third quarter.
Henry, who quietly left his mark on the game, praised his teammates after the convincing win.
â€œPetey and â€˜Trel keep doing what they doing. Itâ€™s going to open up more for me,â€ he said.
The teamâ€™s leader was also pleased with Zir Alyn Phelps and Alan Laneâ€™s play in the secondary.
â€œThey both played a heck of game. The young guys really stepped up,â€ Henry said.
England was a very efficient 6-of-8 for 99 yards passing and also scored on the ground.
Knightsâ€™ quarterback Trent Hopkins finished with 114 yards passing, but was picked off four times.
Linebacker Josh Helton and Matt Smith spearheaded Maidenâ€™s swarming defense that sacked Hopkins three times on the night and caused continuous pressure.
Smith had one interception and one sack. Phelps blanketed North Lincolnâ€™s receiver and turned in one of the hardest hits of the game.
The Blue Devils stifled the Knightsâ€™ running game limiting them to just nine yards on 20 carries.
Blue Devilsâ€™ freshman kicker Matt Kelly nailed six extra points and demonstrated a strong leg on kickoffs in his first varsity game.
by John Mark Brooks