Tigers’ return from COVID pause results in Saturday loss

By Maurice Patton

MT. PLEASANT – Given that Mt. Pleasant’s football team had gone two full weeks without any physical contact, and that nearly one-third the Tigers’ roster was unavailable for Saturday’s matchup with visiting McEwen, coach Bronson Bradley wasn’t totally taken aback by the outcome.

The Warriors scored on each of their first five possessions and limited Mt. Pleasant to 21 offensive yards in the opening half of an eventual 39-16 victory.

“It was almost like a spring scrimmage: Put it together and see what you’ve got,” Bradley said. “They punched us in the mouth, and we literally weren’t ready for it.”

The Tigers, winless in four outings, had a walkthrough three hours before Saturday’s 4 p.m. kickoff. It was basically their first team gathering since their 56-20 loss at Region 5-1A rival Fayetteville on Sept. 11.

“We couldn’t practice for 10 days. Then we had 12 kids Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” said Bradley, whose squad had their Sept. 18 league game against Cornersville as well as a Friday trip to Wayne County canceled because of their COVID pause. “We had limited, non-contact practice.”

It showed Saturday, as McEwen (3-0) scored 33 points on just 24 offensive plays and Mt. Pleasant was virtually powerless to stop the onslaught.

Veteran Mt. Pleasant coach Bronson Bradley and the Tigers, in their first contest since Sept. 11, had few answers for McEwen’s running game in Saturday’s 39-16 loss. (File photo by Ric Beu / SM-Tn Sports)

“I’m not frustrated with the players, with the team,” senior linebacker/fullback Ethan Beasley said. “But we lose focus, really fast. Something happens, any adversity, and we get down. We can’t learn to dig ourselves out of that hole.

“It’s a growing year, a lot of new guys. But I couldn’t be frustrated with any of my brothers. We’ve just got to learn to deal with adversity.”

The Tigers were without their top two quarterbacks – starter Te’Varius Strayhorn and backup Elijah Dowell – as well as linemen Dontavius Ellison, Ryan Gray, Dylon Cooper and Micheal Wright, tight end/defensive end Tyler Berry, safety Jeffrey Williams and kicker Jackson Collier.

“That’s what you need, playing a team like that,” Bradley said.

Trailing 33-0 at intermission, Mt. Pleasant regrouped and put together a 13-play, 65-yard drive that took 8:46 off the clock and resulted in a 21-yard Keevon Cooper touchdown run.

“We came in and said, ‘we just got our tails kicked; let’s go back out and fight some’,” Bradley said.

McEwen scored on the ensuing possession, taking a 39-8 lead into the final period, before the hosts got a 45-yard run for a fourth-quarter score from Ladontay Patton.

“We tried to go with a one-two punch with our little guys, Zavier Davidson and Keevon, and our big kids, Ethan and ‘Predator’ (Jerimiah Dobbins),” Bradley said. “We didn’t really get it going until the second half.”

Mt. Pleasant finished the game with 206 offensive yards. McEwen, meanwhile, rolled up 368 yards – all on the ground, as brothers Joseph and Tommy Wills teamed for 265 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

“Watching them on film, we felt like they were a pretty good team,” Joseph Wills said. “We were nervous during the game. But when we got up 14-0, I knew if we kept it going how we were going, we had this game.”

For the Tigers, the 0-4 start marks the most losses in a single season for the senior class.

“They’ve been 7-3, 7-3, 8-2 (during the regular season),” Bradley said. “They like to win. They’re used to winning.

“For Ethan, for those kids, we wanted a game (this weekend). Without it, we’d have gone three weeks without a game. It’s a good idea to get a game when you can get it this year, and it was pretty cool to play on Saturday.

“We got a game on Wednesday, we put a game plan together on Thursday and practiced Saturday. I thought our staff did a pretty good job putting that together. At least the live action will give us a chance to plan for Huntland.”

Mt. Pleasant resumes region play Friday against visiting Huntland.

McEwen 39, Mt. Pleasant 16
at Mt. Pleasant Memorial Stadium

ME 27 6 6 0 – 39
MP 0 0 8 8 – 16

Scoring Summary
First Quarter

ME – Joseph Wills 43 run (10:15), kick failed
ME – Tommy Wills 48 run (8:03), Garett Clark kick
ME – T. Wills 4 run (3:13), run failed
ME – J. Wills 1 run (0:29), Johnathan Hatley run

Second Quarter

ME – Garett Clark 26 run (5:02), kick failed

Third Quarter

MP – Keevon Cooper 21 run (3:14), Cooper run
ME – J. Wills 3 run (0:00), kick blocked

Fourth Quarter

MP – Ladontay Patton 45 run (2:54), Demarkus Brown pass from Zavier Davidson

Team Statistics

First downs 17 8
Rushes-yards 45-368 36-173
Passing yards 0 33
Comps-Atts-Ints 0-0-0 1-6-3
Penalties-yards 5-40 3-30
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0

Individual Statistics

McEwen – Johnathan Hatley 6-10, Jake Artz 5-15, Joseph Wills 10-101, Garett Clark 5-72, Tommy Wills 18-164, Ty Dreaden 1-17
Mt. Pleasant – Keevon Cooper 12-78, Ladontay Patton 4-60, Jerimiah Dobbins 9-4, Ethan Beasley 4-16, Zavier Davidson 6-13


Mt. Pleasant – Zavier Davidson 1-4-2, 33, Keevon Cooper 0-1-1, 0


Mt. Pleasant – Demarkus Brown 1-33

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