MAIDEN –– May the best mule win.
That’s the type of high school football game Maiden and West Lincoln played on homecoming night at Maiden on Friday.
In a Southern District 7 Athletic 2A game basically void of electrifying big plays –– there were three of 20 or more yards –– Maiden won 17-3 after all of the scoring came in the first half.
The victory set up a Maiden (9-0, 5-0) visit to East Lincoln (5-4, 5-0) for the SD-7 lead this week and left West Lincoln 7-2 overall and 3-2 in the league.
After each team had a gain of 20 yards or more on its opening possession, the only other “big” play was Maiden quarterback Jake McRee’s 25-yard TD pass to T.J. Vick that gave the Blue Devils a two-score lead.
Maiden, reaching 9-0 for the first time since 2006, won with 39 rushing yards on 20 carries.
The race horses –– for either team –– never got out of the barn.
“It was,” said Maiden linebacker-wide receiver Alex White, “a strap up your helmet game and you just gotta fight.
“We knew it would be a dogfight and we couldn’t give up the big play. The first (West Lincoln) drive was an indicator.
“We kinda picked up on some stuff and we were there quick (defensively). We contained their quarterback and that was big.”
Maiden had a 23-yard pass –– McRee to Kyle Kelly –– on its third play of the game in a drive that closed with the Blue Devils sending kicker Kevin Aragon out on fourth-and-goal at the West Lincoln 5. Aragon kicked a 21-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
On their first possession, the Rebels got a 20-yard run by Taylor Long during a 12-play drive that stalled at the Maiden 5. On fourth-and-goal and still at the 5, in came Ivan Cavillo for a 22-yard field goal that tied it at 3.
After that, McRee’s 25-yard TD pass to Vick, with 54.8 seconds left in the half, was the only play of 20 or more yards by either team.
Maiden led 17-3 at the half, having also scored on a 1-yard run by Ricky Taylor with 9:27 left in the first half.
The Blue Devils then gained 53 yards in the second half and the Rebels had 80, but there were no points.
McRee went 19-of-40 for 196 yards and with two interceptions for Maiden, while running back Daniel Davila had 93 rushing yards on 17 carries for West Lincoln.
Other than McRee’s five throws to Kelly for 72 yards and another six to Vick for 38 yards, that was about all the offense.
“I think Maiden’s defense did a really good job against our offense,” said West Lincoln head coach Tom Sain, whose team came in averaging 362 yards per game. “I was proud of our defense, too. We played hard … but we knew he (McRee) could throw.”
Davila got his yardage but the Blue Devils held Rebels quarterback Miguel Corella, averaging 116 rushing yards through the first eight games, to 20 yards on 16 carries.
“Our defense played well, better than I had expected,” said Maiden head coach Frank Snider.
As it heads to East Lincoln, Snider’s team hasn’t scored in the second half of its last two games.
White said gearing up for an explosive Mustangs offense starts today.
“We (gotta) go to work and shift gears,” he said.