Versailles, Mo. – The Eldon Mustangs are once again on the trail of another district title game.
Their road to the district title began this year with a first-round match against their longtime conference rival, the Versailles Tigers.
Eldon had locked up the number one seed in the district and home field advantage throughout the district playoffs with a 6-3 season record, while Versailles finished their season without any wins, 0-9 under the direction of Broc Silvers and his new crew.
Versailles had been handed a loss earlier this season by the Mustangs with a final score of 56-0, as the Eldon rushing attack galloped past them.
This time around, things were meant to be different, and both teams showed that a lot can change in the course of a few games.
Eldon’s home field advantage was of no use, as the game was moved to Versailles to account for the weather that had saturated Eldon’s Victor Field.
The Thursday night battle proved to be a good one, as the winless Versailles Tigers played what might be their best game of the season. Though the Mustangs eventually pounded out a 55-26 win, Versailles was never truly far behind until the end of the third quarter, trailing by as little as a touchdown in the early minutes of the third quarter.
“Our kids responded emotionally in the second half,” Eldon’s coach Shannon Jolley said. “We challenged our kids at halftime to show us something and pull together, because I felt we were a little flat. They played well and played hard. For us, it was important for us to respond in the second half, and we did.”
The game, full of excitement, started off with the Mustangs quickly getting on the scoreboard after recovering a botched kickoff return by Versailles. On the first play from the line of scrimmage, the Mustangs’ Dylan Wood rushed 27 yards for a score.
It looked like the few fans in attendance were in store for another blowout as Eldon’s QB Wyatt Greenwalt hit his open tight end, Thomas Kriegshauser, on a 77 yard reception to score, and Eldon led 14-0 after just four minutes of play.
Versailles had other plans, though, and quickly answered 20 seconds later with a 70 yard touchdown run from Kyler Turpin to put Versailles on the board.
Eldon would manage to distance themselves one more time in the first quarter, as Wyatt Greenwalt broke the plane to score on a 3-yard run, but Versailles wasn’t about to give up their momentum, as Johnathan Cunningham broke raced around the outside on the extra point to block Levi Shinn’s kick, holding the Mustangs to a two-possession lead of 20-6.
The Tigers next drive in the second quarter ate up the majority of the clock, as they strung together a long drive before Cunningham punched in the score from 3 yards out. Another rushing touchdown from Greenwalt before the end of the half put Eldon up 26-12 as they left the field for halftime.
Versailles came out with the same intensity in the second half, and wasted little time as Johnathan Cunningham broke free to rush 40 yards for his second score of the night.
From that point on, however, Eldon returned to form, and scored four unanswered touchdowns over the remainder of the half, with the first three coming on runs by Greenwalt, who finished the night with five rushing touchdowns and 191 yards on 12 attempts. The fourth score went to Levi Shinn, who split time with Dylan Wood while filling in for the absent Raymond Kwok and the injured Dalton Lister.
Versailles managed to score once more in the fourth quarter as QB Michael Allen hit Kyler Turpin for a 36 yard pass, but the outcome was meant to be Eldon winning by a final score of 55-26.
Offensively, the Mustangs stuck to the running game that they are so well-known for, and it paid off big dividends, as the team rushed for over 450 yards on the ground.
Wood finished the night with 114 rushing yards and a TD on 15 carries, while Shinn scored one touchdown on 17 carries for 145 yards. In the passing game, Greenwalt completed four of his seven attempts for 137 yards and one TD and one interception, with Kriegshauser leading the receivers with 87 yards. Eldon finished the night with a total of 587 offensive yards, while Versailles finished with 411.
Michael Allen threw 15-for-29 for 176 yards and one TD and one interception, while Kyler Turpin led the team with 110 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Cunningham finished with 86 yards on 7 carries for two scores.
“Our kids played well,” Coach Broc Silvers said after the game. “We had a shot to beat them, and we had the same injuries they had, and that shows you how much better we got after five weeks. I’m proud of our kids, and our future looks bright.”
Versailles’ season officially ended with a final record of 0-10, while Eldon advances to play Salem after they defeated Osage with a final score of 43-40. That game is scheduled to take place at Eldon next Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.