Despite leading by ten points heading into the fourth quarter in their contest against Olive Branch, the MUS varsity football team knew that they would need to score more points to defeat the Conquistadors because Olive Branch had an extremely potent offense. Unfortunately, the Owls could not put any more points on the scoreboard, and Olive Branch found a way back into the game as they used trick plays and a powerful passing attack to score two fourth-quarter touchdowns and overcome MUS, 21-17, last Friday night at Leslie Pool Field.
Olive Branch took an early lead as the Conquistadors’ playmakers shined. OB used 9 plays to travel 80 yards for the score as QB Todd Mays found standout receiver De’Arthur Cowan from 14-yards out for the score on the opening possession. John Pittman’s PAT was good, and the Owls had found themselves down before they even had the ball.
The MUS offense eventually answered the OB score early in the second quarter following a fourth-down stop at the MUS 32-yard line.
After an initial 18-yard pass from QB Toby Baker to WR Spencer Gruber, RB Shane Tucker took over. He rushed three times, including his third run, a 35-yard scoring gallop, as the Owls needed only 1:13. A mishandled snap prevented the visitors from tying the contest as they trailed 7-6 with 9:50 left in the first half.
After a series of turnovers, including LB Peyton Klawinski’s interception and 40-yard return into Conquistador territory, the Owl offense set out to take the lead. MUS needed eight plays, but they accomplished their goal as Tucker scored his second touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run. Baker found Fernando Van Hook for the two-point conversion, so the Owls took a 14-7 lead into the break.
MUS added to that lead as Gary Wunderlich connected on a 43-yard field goal late in the third quarter to culminate a 9-play, 32-yard possession.
But the Owls could score no more and watched the hosts slowly gain control of the game.
First, after MUS had forced a 4th-and-6 from the OB 49-yard line, the Conquistadors lined up to punt, but Wynton McManis faked the punt and fired a pass to Cowan for a 51-yard touchdown. Pittman’s extra-point cut the lead to 3.
And then Olive Branch recovered an ensuing onside kick and had the ball near midfield, looking to take the lead. But just as the hosts seemed poised to take control, the Owl defense stepped up, and senior LB Heath Wilder intercepted Mays to end a scoring threat.
Unfortunately, with the ball at the Conquistador 32-yard line, MUS could not take advantage of the good field position as OB held the Owls on fourth down and took over with 7:22 at their own 22-yard line.
From there, Olive Branch methodically picked up five first downs as they slowly moved down the field. Then, after a OB timeout, the hosts faced a 2nd-and-goal at the MUS 7, and Mays hit slot receiver Jalen Miller for the touchdown with just 42 seconds remaining. Pittman’s PAT gave OB the 21-17 lead. Their drive covered 78 yards on 15 plays and took up 6:40.
MUS attempted one final drive, but Baker was intercepted on a deep pass, and the Conquistadors took the win as they take a 3-2 lead in the overall series.
With the loss, MUS falls to 2-3, while Olive Branch improves to 4-0.
Next week is Homecoming at MUS. The Owls will take on East High School to culminate the alumni festivities. Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm at Stokes Stadium next Friday night.