A Long night for Mohawk

Seventeen carries, 176 yards and two touchdowns. A pretty good game for most people. A great first half for Tyler Long.

For Calvert, it was Long’s night. For Mohawk, it was simply a long night.

In a clash between two of the area’s hottest teams coming in, Calvert found a way to cool down Mohawk and end the Warriors’ four-game winning streak. The push for the playoffs and the final Midland Athletic League title continued for the Senecas after a 27-6 win.

“I’ve said all year, this is a great group of young men and each week, you think they’re playing at their top and they show us a little more. We’re excited where we’re at right now. We found ourselves behind the 8-ball earlier in the year and now we’re playing well and kind of control everything we want.”

The stat sheet suggests the game was even more one-sided than the scoreboard indicated.

Calvert racked up 380 yards on the ground, 282 from Long. Mohawk finished with just 123 totals yards, 59 of those coming on one first quarter Gunnar Johnson run.

The tone was set early in the night as Long raced past the Mohawk defense for a 45-yard scoring run on Calvert’s first offensive series.

The junior said after the game that the performance was all credited to one thing.

“Preparation,” Long said. “We wanted to do this for ourselves, try to work for an MAL championship. We had a grind there at the beginning of the season. We came back and worked our butts off to get back in the swing of things and won the last (four) games. We’ve just been working hard.”

“He’s a talent,” Mohawk coach Erik Baker said of Long. “You get someone that big, that fast, it doesn’t matter. We knew he was going to get the ball; we knew he was going to get his touches. It’s just hard to stop that kind of athlete.”

It appeared as if the fans who filed into Frost-Kalnow Stadium might’ve been in store for a track meet when Johnson ripped off a 59-yard run on Mohawk’s next offensive play. Shortly after, Johnson found the end zone and the MAL’s leading rusher had amassed 73 yards on seven carries in less than a quarter. But the Calvert defense didn’t allow Johnson a rush longer than 4 yards the rest of the night.

“We were gunning for him,” Calvert lineman Austin Perry punned. “We were ready. We knew that he was the leading rusher this year so far, and we wanted to shut that down for this game.”

Mission accomplished.

Mohawk collected only five first downs the entire night. Four of which came in the first half. The fifth didn’t come until 1:22 remained in the game.

“Our defense has a lot of pride and we don’t want to give up one yard any play,” Calvert linebacker Adam Recker said. “We don’t want to give up a yard. That’s our goal and that’s how we keep it going.”

Recker shined on both sides of the ball. In addition to the role he played in the defensive shutdown, Recker rushed for 109 yards on 17 carries with a score on offense.

“The holes were ginormous. Anybody could run through those things,” he said. “The holes were just ginormous, and all I had to do was follow my blockers, and they did a great job. The scout team during the week in practice, they just gave us a great look, gave the line a push up front and they just helped us out greatly.”

Long agreed with his assessment of the line’s play.

“The line did a fantastic job and I expect that out of them,” he said. “They’re a great group of kids and they come out and work every day.”

Perry, one of the anchors of the line, passed on the credit to the scout team’s work during practice.

“We were just doing our own assignments,” he said. “The scout team gave us a great look this week, great look. I’d probably say our win was to them because they just pushed us every play. They gave us great looks.”

A 7-yard scoring run from Recker and a 15-yard run from Long gave Calvert a 20-6 lead at halftime. After a third quarter stalemate, the Senecas extended their lead early in the fourth on a 10-yard scoring scamper from Drew Ritzler. Mohawk’s defense improved in the second half, only allowing the one score, but the offense couldn’t get anything going to cut into Calvert’s lead.

“It was fundamental stuff. They didn’t run anything we didn’t expect them to run,” Baker said. “They just did a much better job of defensively holding their ground and shedding blocks. We didn’t do a very good job of our own technique. That’s why the result was what it was.”

Mohawk’s chance at a league title took a severe blow with the loss, but still remains alive for a playoff spot.

There was a possibility Calvert could end the night MAL champion. However, that went away when Carey rallied to beat Hopewell-Loudon seven miles down the road.

Calvert remains tied with Carey atop the league and can clinch a share of the title by beating Hopewell-Loudon itself next week. The Senecas can win the title outright with a win and a Carey loss to Seneca East. The win Friday also pushed the Senecas closer to locking up a playoff spot of their own.

All this after a 1-4 start to the season.

“Sports are about life lessons. I’ve talked about that before,” Fox said. “If anything, this life lesson this season taught us it didn’t look good for us early, but they were able to correct some things and come together as a unit and as a team. And now they’re playing well and all their goals ate still in their hands.”