The McLean County High School football team hit the ground running and opened their 2020 season with a 32-12 win over Muhlenberg County in Greenville on September 11. The Cougars more than tripled the Mustangs offensive yards on the ground and garnered 364 total for the game.
Connor Baldwin was 2-2 for 49 yards with two touchdown passes to Brady Dame. Matthew Miller also completed a 29-yard pass to Dame. Braeden Peercy was the lead rusher with 110 yards from nine trips. Andrew Munster had 72 yards in 16 carries.
Defensively, Munster led the Cougars with 16 tackles and a fumble recovery. Gabe Whitmer had eight stops while Baldwin and Lucas Mauzy each added seven. McLean County had seven tackles for a loss in addition to three sacks by Mauzy, Whitmer and James Haerle.
The initial kickoff went to the Cougars and they hammered down the field all the way to the end zone with their first possession. Matthew Miller stepped across the line and McLean County was up 6-0 midway through the first quarter. The Mustangs got the ball, but the Cougar defense never let them cross midfield and they ended their series with a punt. Baldwin spun off several tackles and returned that punt for 37 yards, but a later fumble was recovered by Muhlenberg.
Gabe Whitmer went to work with several consecutive stops and some help from Jacob Hampton with a tackle for a loss, but a big Mustang pass tied the game at six. The Cougars answered back immediately with a stiff arm by Peercy before kicking in a 46-yard touchdown run. Miller ran in the conversion and McLean County was back on top 14-6 early in the second quarter.
Wes Wells delivered a stop in the backfield before Baldwin defended a big pass that fell incomplete. Elijah Baldwin served up a touchdown-saving tackle, but Muhlenberg County scored on a later play. The Cougars held off the conversion attempt to maintain their lead 14-12 with 1:53 left before the half.
Peercy returned the next kickoff 15 yards and Zach Clayton flipped the field with a huge run that went nearly 25 yards. Quarterback Matthew Miller completed a 29-yard pass to Dame, but time ran out at the half and the score remained 14-12 in favor of the Cougars.
The second half was dominated by the Cougars who never let the Mustangs near the end zone again. The kickoff went to Muhlenberg, but after a big pass attempt was deflected by Dame, the Mustangs opted to punt. The Cougars took over near midfield and wasted no time setting up for another scoring play with Lucas Mauzy carrying it across from three yards out midway through the third quarter.
The Cougar defense went to work with several pileups on the ball led by Baldwin and Kenny Brooks. Dame defended another pass attempt before Munster recovered a fumble to bring the ball back to McLean. The Cougars marched it down the field again as the game rolled into the final quarter.
Connor Baldwin completed a 20-yard halfback pass to Dame who snagged it in the end zone early in the fourth. The Cougar defense attacked again with several tackles in the backfield and shoved the Mustangs back across midfield before a turnover on downs.
Baldwin made a run along the near side with some good out-front blocking by Munster, Haerle, Brooks and Cameron Dukes. Mauzy moved the chains again before Baldwin and Dame had a repeat performance with another halfback pass that Dame carried across the goal line. Haerle put the next kickoff in the end zone before the young guys took the field for the Cougars midway through the final quarter. The defense stepped up and McLean County sealed their first win 32-12.
“It was a good overall effort and I was impressed with the physicality of some of the young kids,” Cougars Head Coach Zach Wagner said.” We had a very good showing, especially considering the limited practice time.”
The Cougars will be on the road to Butler County on Friday, Sept. 18. Kickoff against the Bears is at 7 p.m.