MERIDIAN — It took a half for the Mountain View football team to get things figured out, but once the Mavericks were able to figure out a few kinks, there was no stopping them.
Mountain View used a potent rushing attack and a shutdown defense in the second half Friday to erase a 13-point halftime deficit in a season opener and beat Meridian 14-13.
“With how we started out last year, 0-3, for us to get a first win in a close game against a really good team in front of our home fans, the momentum is going to push us all the way through,” said senior defensive lineman Jackson Beck, who had a big third down sack on Meridian’s last drive.
The game marked the minting of the newly named Idaho Central Credit Union Stadium and featured the debut of field turf, a video board and a sound system. It was a pretty full stadium for the Mavericks, after COVID-19 restricted capacity a year ago.
"It was super exciting to have fans again,” said Mountain View coach Judd Benedick. “We lined up for the national anthem, it was finished, the crowd went nuts and one of my coaches on the headset said ‘I forgot what that sounded like.’ The community and the school and the fans, everybody showed up and made it a really fun atmosphere on a Friday night. Lots of bad stuff going on in the world, but that was fun.”
For at least the first half, it looked like the christening of the new field might be a bust for the Mavericks as the Meridian defense shut out the Mavericks for the first 24 minutes, keeping Mountain View from getting anything going outside the game’s opening drive, which resulted in a missed field goal. But touchdown runs by Quintez Evans and Dallas Slocum on back-to-back drives gave the Mavericks the lead late in the third quarter, and Mountain View held on for the victory.
"In the first half, I think we just had the first-game jitters,” said Evans. “A lot of teams have it. We came out a little bit nervous and weren’t ready to go. But we came back in the second half. We knew what we had to do and step up in the game.”
The first half was all Meridian as the Warriors scored two touchdowns to take a 13-0 lead into the break. After the Mavericks missed the field goal on the opening drive after getting down to the Meridian 9-yard line, the Warriors responded with a lengthy 80-yard drive. Malakai Martinez diving in for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth and goal, giving the Warriors a 7-0 lead late in the first.
Meridian added another score late in the second quarter when Martinez found Kross Antonnacchi, who had been injured earlier in the drive, for a three-yard touchdown pass, giving Meridian a 13-0 lead going into the break.
Meridian looked poised to extend its lead opening the second half with a drive to the red zone, but could not get anything out of the drive as the Mavericks’ defense put pressure on Martinez on fourth down, forcing an incomplete pass and a turnover on downs.
Mountain View marched back down the field and Evans ran it in from one yard out to cut Meridian’s lead to 13-7.
“As soon as the defense got that stop, I knew we were scoring,” said Evans. “We told our defense, you guys keep getting stops, we got to score.
“As soon as that defense got that stop, we knew it was a different ball game,” Evans added.
The Maverick defense came up big again on the next drive, stopping a 4th-and-short at their own 36 to get the ball back. Mountain View went down the field for a go-ahead drive, scoring on a 24-yard touchdown run by Slocum
Mountain View’s next drive appeared to stall with a couple of fumble attempts and a bounce on a punt that took a Meridian bounce. But a Meridian defender ran into the punter giving the Mavericks fresh set of downs.
With the extra downs, and another first down run by Evans, the Mavericks were able to milk the clock down to 3:13 before punting it back to Meridian.
Meridian, which was without Martinez for the final drive, got it down to the 15, but a third down sack by Beck set up a 33-yard field goal attempt by Meridian, which was missed. Mountain View was able to run the rest of the clock out.