LONE TREE - It’s just what the Midland football team does, year after year after year.
Win games, and in impressive fashion, too.
The Eagles did it again in their 2019 season-opener at Lone Tree Friday, Aug. 30, and against a talented Lions’ team.
“We knew this would be a hard-fought game,” said Midland football coach Lennie Miller, as his team overcame a slow start to take a 44-32 final over Lone Tree.
“Our offense struggled early on, but once our new offensive line began to feel a little more comfortable as the game wore on, we started to get things going.”
Midland was forced to punt on their first four possessions, three of which ended with 3-and-outs.
Yet the Eagles were still able to score.
“Good teams make big plays and find ways to score even when the offense is struggling,” Miller said. “Our kids just find a way.”
Jensen Dodge got the visitors on the board in the opening frame when he scooped up a Lion fumble deep in Midland territory, forced by Britan Martens, and raced 72 yards into the end zone to pull the Eagles to within two points of the hosts at 8-6.
“You have to credit Lone Tree,” Miller said. “They came at us right away and made plays. But once our offensive line was able to begin to take control, things started to swing our way. I think our conditioning helped us, too. We seemed to wear Lone Tree down in the second half.”
The Lions started the second quarter scoring taking a 16-6 lead with an early touchdown, but back-to-back scores by the Eagle offense, both coming in the passing game gave the visitors a narrow 18-16 edge at the halftime break.
Midland started out the second half with an on-side kick that caught the Lone Tree completely by surprise, giving the ball right back to the Eagle offense.
“We had a score at the end of the half to take the lead and then we got the ball back again after the on-side kick, and scored again. I think it was this sequence that really helped change the game. That was a big momentum switch and really ignited our guys.”
Sawyer Hansen recovered the on-side kick setting up a Britan Martens one-yard touchdown plunge just a few minutes later.
“I knew this would be a good game to gauge where we are as a team,” Miller said. “I think we’re right where we need to be, too. Hunter Shoaff, Brennan Hall and Trevor Fitzpatrick all did a great job on the offensive line. Iziek Soper helped out at tight end, too.”
Leading 38-32 in the final frame, Alex Smith sealed the huge road triumph when he picked off a Hain Hunter pass and raced 36 yards into the end zone for what proved to be the game’s final points with 2:48 to play.
“Alex was our Player of the Game,” Miller said. “He had that interception as well as a fumble recovery on defense and ran the ball well for us, too. The kid did it all.”
Martens had a big hand in the victory as well, not only rushing for a game-high 122 yards and a touchdown, but was also 12-of-19 passing for 139 yards and two more scores.
Dodge was Martens’ main target as the two connected nine times for 118 yards and one touchdown.
Austin Weinschenk paced the Eagle defense with 11 tackles while Soper added nine more.
“We had a lot of new kids who had to get used to playing at the varsity game speed, and they did it pretty quickly,” Miller said. “Our offense, after the slow start, did what we needed them to do and our defense, also after a slow start, was very good. Overall, this was the kind of start to the season I was hoping to see. Now we just need to keep it going.”