Eldon, Mo. – For the second year in a row, the Eldon Mustangs will compete in the Class 3 District 3 championship.
Last year, the Eldon Mustangs made the big leap, going from a 6-3 team that lost in the first round of districts to Osage to a 5-4 team that advanced to the district title game, where the Mustangs dominated Osage with a 42-7 win to earn the title of district champs, finishing the season with a total of 8 wins and 5 losses.
This year, the Mustangs' squad is back, and holds the number one seed with their 6-3 regular season record, which means home-field advantage for Eldon as they return to the district title match.
Coach Shannon Jolley's team has been deadly on both sides of the ball this season, averaging 39 points per game while the defense allows an average of 25 per game, though those stats are misleading, as the majority of Eldon's games have been decided by a margin of at least two touchdowns per game, if not more. In fact, the Eldon offense has only played three games this season in which they have not scored 40 points or more.
Eldon secured their spot on the district championship on Wednesday night with a 41-14 win over Salem, as the Mustangs' rushing duo of QB Wyatt Greenwalt and RB Raymond Kwok combined for five rushing touchdowns and 281 yards on the ground to lead the Mustangs to victory.
Kwok put the 'Stangs on the board first, as Eldon marched down the field toscore with a 5-yard run by the senior running back.
Two minutes later, the Mustangs would increase their lead to 14-0 after a fumble recovery as Greenwalt took the ball 31 yards for the score to close out the first quarter.
Greenwalt opened up the second quarter with another score after just a minute and a half off the clock, as he once again broke free for a 37 yard touchdown run. He would visit the end zone for a third time in the second quarter, with his longest run of the night, a 41-yard dash to put Eldon up 27-0.
Salem finally found a way to answer, as Zayne Kyser and the Tiger offense were able to punch in a touchdown from one yard out before the half.
Leading 27-6 at the half, Eldon came out strong in the second half, with Kwok scoring his second TD of the night, this time busting it in from the one yard line with 7:55 left in the third quarter.
Salem would answer with 3-and-a-half minutes left in the third, as QB Dylan Wisdom rushed 16 yards for the score, but that would prove to be their final score of the game.
Eldon managed one more TD in the fourth quarter, this time though the air, as Greenwalt found Wren Rodriguez for an 8-yard touchdown reception, as Eldon went on to win 41-14.
Eldon won the battle on both sides of the ball on Wednesday night, as the defense held Salem to 188 total offensive yards on 33 plays, and held Salem's Kyser, a back who put up 200+ yards in both of Salem's last two games, to just 81 yards and one touchdown. The Mustang offense recorded 381 total yards on the night, with 358 of them coming on the ground on 55 plays.
The Mustangs had only one turnover on the night, while Salem's three turnovers gave Eldon a spark, but Eldon's ability to convert on 3rd and 4th down inevitably led the team to a win, as they were 6/11 on third down and 3 for 5 on fourth downs.
Greenwalt led the team in rushing yards with 153 on nine carries for three TDs, while Kwok followed closely behind with two TDs on 30 carries for 128 yards. Greenwalt completed two of his three passes on the night for 23 yards and a touchdown.
Eldon now prepares for the big game on Monday night, as they host Ava for the district championship. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Eldon's Victor Field, as Coach Shannon Jolley's team will look to take the title for the second year in a row.