MENDOTA – After losing its first Three Rivers Conference Mississippi Division game of the season last week to Bureau Valley, the Hall-Putnam County football team knew it needed to get a win to even its record instead of falling too far behind in the standings.
The Red Devils showcased the running game and defensive stops they have shown throughout the first three weeks, bolstered their passing attack and reduced their penalties in a Week 4 TRC battle Friday as Hall-PC defeated Mendota 34-7 in the Trojans’ homecoming game.
“I thought the kids came out and executed way better than we have this season. I was happy with the second-half play,” Red Devils coach Randy Tieman said. “Offensively, a lot of kids got to touch the ball, and that’s always good. You like to give everyone you can a chance.
“Defensively, we were a little better at putting pressure on the quarterback this week. It helped with having Aiden and Tristan Redcliff both blitzing at times. I think that helped quite a bit. Our defensive line played a little bit better, but we still have to get more pressure in there.”
Hall-PC (2-2, 1-1 TRC Mississippi) started the scoring in the first quarter at 2:21 when senior Gianni Guerrini took a 19-yard quarterback keeper into the end zone, followed by an extra point by kicker DeAnthony Weatherspoon to take a 7-0 lead into the second quarter.
The Trojans (0-4, 0-2) tied the game at 6:52 in the second quarter with a bit of trickery. Junior Braiden Freeman took a handoff from senior quarterback Justin Randolph and threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Keegan Beetz.
MHS showed it could move the ball throughout the game as Randolph used his legs and made big-time throws to Freeman, Aiden Tillman and Wyatt Ossman throughout the game.
The Trojans just couldn’t mesh plays together to continuously move down the field.
“We had difficulties timing it up. Once we got someone open the protection broke down a couple of times,” Trojans coach Keegan Hill said. “We had some timely calls both offensively and defensively.
“Quarterback Justin Randolph ran significantly better this game than the first three games. The offensive line was more sound than it’s been all season. There were a lot of positive signs, and we saw significant growth.”
Tieman liked the coverage his team played on the MHS passing game, which was the most dynamic the Red Devils had seen all season. The Red Devils’ first three opponents – Orion, Riverdale, and Bureau Valley – are predominately running teams.
“I thought our coverage was good for the most part. Even on their touchdown throw and catch, our guy was there. Dylan Glynn just didn’t get his head around,” Tieman said. “We need to talk more back there and know when the ball is coming. On the sideline he said it was because he didn’t know the ball was coming. I told him it was because he didn’t get his head turned. Other guys have to communicate. Little things we need to work on.
“He got better and better at it throughout the game. He is a sophomore, and he ended up having an interception at the goal line.”
The Red Devils scored a little over a minute after the game was tied when Guerrini threw a shovel pass to Aiden Redcliff, who found a hole in the defense for a 56-yard touchdown to take a 13-7 lead.
Sophomore Braden Curran got in on the scoring with 1:17 left in the second quarter when he found the end zone on a 14-yard run for a 19-7 Hall-PC lead.
Aiden Redcliff then scored the last two touchdowns of the game as he ran up the middle for a 10-yard score with 4:18 left in the third quarter and a 41-yard flash down the sideline to paydirt with 2:45 left in the game.
Redcliff scored two rushing touchdowns and ran for 63 yards on 14 carries. His 56-yard receiving TD was his only grab. Guerrini was 6-of-9 passing for 96 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for 109 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Curran had a team-high 111 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries.
Tieman and the Red Devils are happy with the win and to move to .500 in both the conference and overall records, but they know it doesn’t get any easier from here.
Week 5 is a TRC Mississippi matchup with undefeated Kewanee.
“The kids have to realize what’s on the line. Kewanee beat up on Bureau Valley pretty bad tonight. We have to look at the film going into Week 5 against Kewanee,” Tieman said. “I don’t think we played our best game against Bureau Valley last week [18-8 loss for the Red Devils]. We need to pick up the pace going into next week.”