06 Nov 18
The Ukiah Daily Journal
MIDDLETOWN — Drake Harbison and the Middletown Mustangs did exactly what they were supposed to do to the St. Vincent Mustangs on Saturday night in the opening round of the North Coast Section Division V football playoffs at Bill Foltmer Field in Middletown.
They routed them, 48-0, to earn a berth against Fort Bragg in the quarterfinals next Saturday in Fort Bragg at 7 p.m.
“You’re the favorite but sometimes the kids come out in a game like that and are sloppy,” Middletown head coach Bill Foltmer said. “That wasn’t the case tonight. There was precision … we were efficient running the ball and passing it. The kids were on their game.”
Middletown (8-3) had this game wrapped up less than two minutes into the second quarter. The Mustangs scored three touchdowns during a 56-second span to push a 21-0 lead to 41-0. Reserves began replacing starters at that point and the entire second half was one big reserve-fest for Middletown.
“They took the game seriously like they should have,” Foltmer said of his starters. “Our running backs ran like they should have and the holes were big.”
Harbison, a senior, carried the ball 10 times for 157 yards and scored on runs of 2 and 26 yards in the first quarter and 53 yards on a counter play just 52 seconds into the second quarter, his final carry of the night. His backfield mate, Nico Barrio, raced 79 yards for a touchdown to end Middletown’s 21-0 first quarter, most of that gain coming after he pulled in a short pass from quarterback RH Hess on the Mustangs’ final offensive play of the opening period. Barrio found an open lane to the end zone down the Middletown sideline as he pulled away from his St. Vincent pursuers.
About the only suspense in the game came after Harbison’s first two touchdown runs staked the Mustangs to a 14-0 lead. Middletown attempted an onside kick that St. Vincent recovered at its own 44-yard line and the Petaluma team pushed the ball down to the Middletown 11 where it had a first-and-goal. The Mustangs’ defense stiffened at that point and St. Vincent ended up turning the ball over on downs at the 12.
Three plays late Hess and Barrio hooked up for their long touchdown pass to make it 21-0 as Jorge Fonseca booted the extra point.
Harbison’s 53-yard burst for his third and final touchdown came with 11:08 remaining in the second quarter and a 28-0 lead. Two plays later St. Vincent fumbled and Middletown’s Dillon Tingle recovered at the St. Vincent 34. The Mustangs needed only two plays to reach the end zone – a 23-yard pass from Hess to Guy Boyd followed by Barrio’s 11-yard touchdown, a play on which the running back was momentarily hung up in the backfield before spotting a hole and running through it for the 11-yard score with 10:19 left in the half.
Middletown’s Nash Field sprints toward the end zone to complete a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the second quarter.
That 35-0 lead was soon 41-0 as Nash Field intercepted a quarterback Trent Free pass on St.Vincent’s next play from scrimmage and raced 31 yards for the touchdown with 10:12 remaining.
With reserves on the field the rest of the way for Middletown, the Mustangs picked up one last touchdown in the closing minute of the third quarter when lineman Cole Jensen scored on a 2-yard run, capping a 13-play, 61-yard drive.
The fourth quarter was played with a running clock and the game was over less than two hours after it started.
“It was a good team effort, Foltmer said.
Middletown’s quarterfinal-round opponent, Fort Bragg, also breezed into the quarterfinals with a 49-8 first-round victory over California School for the Deaf on Friday night.
Foltmer said he has no illusions about next week’s game being an easy march into the semifinals as Fort Bragg defeated Middletown 18-14 on Oct. 19 at Timberwolf Stadium, also the site of Saturday’s quarterfinal.
“Next week’s a real big difference,” Foltmer said with an eye toward the bigger and more physical Timberwolves (7-4), the No. 4 playoff seed to Middletown’s No. 5. “It’s going to be much, much tougher.”
Middletown’s side of the playoff bracket is exclusively a NCL I affair as No. 1 seed Kelseyville (9-1) hosts No. 8 Cloverdale (7-4) in a quarterfinal-round game on Friday. The Middletown-Fort Bragg and Kelseyville-Cloverdale winners advance to the semifinals the weekend of Nov. 16-17 at the home site of the highest surviving seed. The championship game is Nov. 23-24.