ELDON — After a brutal opener on the road last week, the Eldon Mustangs are looking for better things in front of their home crowd tonight.
Eldon will host frequent district rival Owensville in non-conference action tonight at Victor Field (7 p.m. kickoff).
Both teams are coming off season-opening setbacks. Eldon's was certainly the uglier of the two.
At Bolivar, the host Liberators rolled up a 21-0 first-quarter lead on their way to a 54-8 victory against the mistake-prone Mustangs.
The Owensville Dutchmen lost as well last week but had much more success moving the ball in a 44-28 home defeat to Potosi.
Eldon and Owensville should be quite familiar with each other.
Last season Eldon posted a 34-6 victory against the young Dutchmen. Tonight's game will be the seventh between the two squads in the last five years — including three in district tourney playoff action. In the previous six games, the Mustangs hold a 4-2 advantage.
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The two squads are not in the same district this year.
Both teams need to hitch it up a couple notches defensively when they face off tonight.
Eldon head coach Chad Hult said Bolivar was simply too much up front last week.
"They were big and physical up front," Hult said. "Weather was not a factor. They just made too many big plays.
"We did some good things on offense but would then come back and kill ourselves with one thing or the other. But we had the ability to move the ball."
Based on last week's numbers, the Mustangs' wing-T attack will have the opportunity to move the ball on a Dutchmen defense that gave up more than 400 yards on the ground against Potosi.
Potosi piled up 456 yards of total offense on Owensville — 412 of that rushing. Two Potosi running backs rushed for 125 yards or better — Kyle Miller with 160 and Wade Mercille with 125.
As a result, the Dutchmen pass defense was never really tested, as Potosi attempted just two passes, completing one for 44 yards.
Derek Brandt, a sophomore safety, paced the Dutchman defense with 16 tackles while junior linebacker T.C. Fisher had 14. Senior linebacker Michael Miles recorded a sack.
Owensville's Nathan Cabot is in his first season as a head coach. He is a former Dutchman assistant before taking over the head coaching job, which opened up in May.
"On defense they have a 5-2 look," Hult said of Owensville. "They try to get a lot of guys to the ball and apply pressure. That causes problems if you don't pick the blitzes up. Their linebackers are pretty solid with the inside guys and the secondary looks like their strength. They play downhill and get to the ball."
Owensville may have given up a lot but also displayed some offensive firepower of its own, totaling 424 yards a week ago.
Much of that came from the arm of sophomore quarterback Brendan Decker, who hit on 16-of-27 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns.
Decker completed passes to seven different receivers, with senior wideout Cason Gray catching five for 161 yards and two touchdowns and wideout Brandt three for 47.
With six rushers sharing the load Owensville ran for 151 yards, as Decker kept it 19 times for 67 yards and a TD while sophomore running back Austin Lowder rushed for 44 yards on eight attempts.
"They're speedy; not near as big as (Bolivar)," Hult said of Owensville. "On film they're pretty athletic. Everything goes through their quarterback. They like to throw but when they don't they go to the option."
Last week the Mustangs finished with 207 total offensive yards, 199 of that on the ground.
Sophomore quarterback Dallas Hardy led the way with 120 rushing yards on 18 carries and a touchdown while senior fullback Kaden Dillon had 56 yards on 16 attempts. Hardy hit on 1-of-6 passes for eight yards and two interceptions.
Dillon, a linebacker, paced Eldon in tackles with six, including two for loss, while senior outside linebacker Xander Strickland had five tackles.
"I know (Owensville) is a younger team," Hult said. "If we cut down the self-inflicted mistakes and tackle better, I think we will be fine."