SPRING MILLS - With the District 6 Class AA tournament just around the corner, the Mount Union football team is looking forward.
But Friday night, after a 46-36 win over non-conference opponent Penns Valley, the Trojans had something to celebrate for the present as the win gave them an excellent 9-1 finish to the regular season.
"I'm just so thrilled to come back to a 9-1 season for Mount Union. We haven't had many 9-1 seasons in Mount Union," Trojans coach Dayton Shugarts said.
That ninth win also came in impressive fashion.
With 433 total yards, Mount Union was dangerous in the air and on the ground, as the Trojans scored in double digits every quarter but the fourth to continue to put up the offensive numbers with which they've become associated.
During the first half, the Trojans outpaced the Rams in their intensity, and they also weren't afraid to take advantage of a few Penns Valley mistakes.
In both the first and second quarters Penns Valley gave up key fumbles, and the Trojans were there to cash in on the opportunities. After a 15-yard passing play between quarterback Trevon Walker and B.J. Loner put the Trojans up 7-0 late in the first quarter, Devon Kylor decided to keep things going when on the following Penns Valley drive he chased down Rams quarterback Cameron Tobias for a near-sack, but settled instead for a fumble that he recovered on the Penns Valley 5-yard line. From there, Dylan Smith ran the ball into the end zone for the 14-0 lead.
The second quarter yielded similar results when a Penns Valley fumble late in the stanza gave Mount Union possession for an eventual pass from Walker to Nate Goodrich to end the scoring for the half, but the Trojans had created some opportunities of their own in the quarter as well.
Working off another rushing touchdown by Smith and a big 57-yard passing play between Walker and Loner, Mount Union outscored Penns Valley 13-7 in the quarter before the final touchdown by Goodrich resulted in the 34-7 lead headed into the half.
"Trevon has done that all year ... he has a good sense about himself in the field, and he has some good receivers out there," said Shugarts, who gave credit to players throughout his offense for the numbers they put up on the night.
In the second half, Mount Union connected twice more on a 27-yard reception from Klayton Heffner and a 47-yard run from Smith, but Penns Valley had also begun to pick up the pace.
Realizing that the best chance they had to score was in the air, the Rams went to work on the passing game, as Tobias threw for three of his team's four second-half touchdowns.
"The kid (Tobias) threw the ball real well, and he had some nice receivers. Our secondary all year has been our Achilles heel," Shugarts said.
Tobias threw for 328 yards, and in the fourth quarter he and the Rams outscored Mount Union 20-0 to mount a comeback attempt.
"We fell apart there, I don't know what happened. When you get a lead like that and you know it's out of hand, we wanted to get subs in, but we just started doing things out of character," Shugarts said.
However, despite the difficult fourth quarter, Shugarts was pleased with what he saw from the team, and gave lots of credit to the defensive line for holding Penns Valley's rushing game to a mere 84 yards.
Notable offensive yardage for the Trojans included Walker's 208 passing yards, 126 rushing yards for Smith, and 80-yard and 67-yard receiving games from Loner and Heffner respectively.
The Trojans (9-1, 4-1) awaits District 6 announcements for when and against whom they will play their first-round game.