August 20, 2019

Thunderbolts varsity football dominates conference rival

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MIO — The Mio AuSable varsity football team was able to even its record to 1-1 on the season after toppling conference rival Arenac Eastern (AE) 50 to 12 on Thursday, Sept. 4.

Mio jumped on the board early after recovering a fumble on Arenac Eastern’s own 26-yard line on the first series of the game.

Mio quickly capitalized on the Eagles turnover with Zac Bills powering his way through the Arenac defense for a 16-yard scoring run. Bills also added the subsequent two-point conversion to put the ’Bolts up by eight early in the first quarter.

Arenac Eastern quickly responded by driving down the field on its next possession to punch in a touchdown of its own. However, the Eagles attempted a fake field goal on the extra point, and they were stopped short by an aggressive Mio defense.

The Eagles were able to jump ahead early in the second quarter after forcing a Mio fumble on a fourth-and-seven attempt.

Arenac promptly drove down the field following the fumble, and senior quarterback Graham Morgan tallied his second touchdown run of the night from four yards out. Again, the Eagles missed their extra point attempt.

With the Eagles up 12-8 early in the second quarter, the Mio team stepped up their play to take control of the game.

Mio quickly drove down the field on its next possession, and, following a big fourth-and-one conversion by Aaron Smith, the ’Bolts punched in a three-yard touchdown run by Zac Bills. It was his second of the night.

Following the extra point, Mio jumped out to a 16-12 lead with just over five minutes to go in the second quarter and they never looked back.

Mio junior defensive back Neil Hanson returned a fumble for 45-yards after senior defensive lineman Dylan Stefani broke up a pitch by Eastern’s quarterback to put Mio up by 12.

On the next drive, Mio pinned AE deep in its own end, and the Eagles were forced to punt. The snap sailed over the head of the punter, into the AE end zone, where then the AE kicker tried to throw the ball away.

The punter’s passed sailed to an open area on the field, and an intentional grounding penalty was called in the end zone, giving the ’Bolts a safety.

It was the first of two safeties forced by the Mio defense on the night.

Mio entered the half leading 26-12.

Thunderbolts head coach Jim Gendernalik said his team was able to start enforcing its will in the second quarter, and it showed as the second half started.

The Mio offense continued to click, and the defense stepped up to keep AE off the board in the half.

AE nearly scored in the fourth quarter when Eagles sophomore Sam Phelan picked up a fumble and scrambled for the ’Bolts end zone. However, Mio’s Smith chased Phelan for nearly 60 yards before he made a touchdown-saving tackle just yards before the end zone.

With AE threatening, Mio junior Jeff Hawley came up with a big interception on his own three-yard line to keep the Eagles off the board.

Mio finished the scoring when Zach Pillars broke off a 97-yard touchdown run to put the ’Bolts up 50-12.

Pillars led Mio with 149 yards on nine carries, as the ’Bolts were able to put up 338 total rushing on the night.

Grant Price chipped in with 61 yards rushing and a 47-yard touchdown run. Garret Price also chipped in with 52 rushing yards and one touchdown.

Smith led the way for the defense with seven tackles and five assists. Bills tallied five tackles, five assists and one fumble recovery.

Trevor Fuhr was also strong on the defensive line earning four tackles and three assists.

Mio will head to Atlanta for its next game, where they will have to contend with a pounding, physical offense.

“They played us tough last year,” Gendernalik said of Atlanta.

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