Mustangs stage another great escape
Jacquet McClendon’s football future will probably be at wide receiver, but he’s presently making foes miserable as a defensive standout.
The Evergreen Park senior is still doing much as a pass-catcher to warrant attention; his five receptions versus Eisenhower Friday night, for example, included two that went for touchdowns. McClendon also gained a total of 121 yards.
However, when the Cardinals threatened to erase the last part of what had once been a 21-0 Mustangs lead, it was McClendon coming to Evergreen’s defensive rescue late in the fourth quarter. His interception thwarted Eisenhower’s final possession with under a minute to go and preserved the Mustangs’ 21-13 South Suburban Conference Red win that kept their ledger perfect.
McClendon had performed a similar act of thievery near the end of a Week 5 clash with Richards, and that steal nailed down Evergreen’s 35-34 triumph back then. Amazingly, the Mustangs (7-0, 4-0) have collected five of their six on-field wins to date by single digits, four of them by no more than two points.
And even in its biggest victory, 21-10 over Oak Lawn, Evergreen had to fight back from a 10-0 halftime deficit.
No rally was necessary against the Cardinals, as McClendon scored on Sean Ryan pass completions of 47 and 49 yards in the opening stanza. The shorter of those TDs featured McClendon making a circus catch, while he had no Eisenhower defenders anywhere in the vicinity when he crossed the goal lone to notch the other.
Eric Gurrister (five receptions, 82 yards) was another favorite target for Ryan, who again filled in admirably for injured signal-caller Jonathan O’Brien, while running back Keyshawn Carpenter surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark once more by grinding out 119. Carpenter also delivered the Mustangs’ third touchdown.
With Evergreen’s defense routinely harassing Eisenhower’s skill people, a comeback by the visitors didn’t seem likely. Eleven of the Cards’ offensive plays resulted in lost yardage.
But just when it appeared as if the Mustangs would finally get a breather, back came Eisenhower. T.J. Skelton got the Cardinals on the board with a touchdown run, then Michael Morrison hauled in a 50-yard pass to slice his club’s deficit to eight points.
Eisenhower could get no closer, though, so Evergreen — which has already clinched a Class 4A playoff berth — took one more step toward both an unbeaten regular season and SSC Red championship.
The Mustangs can guarantee themselves at least a share of the latter on Friday by defeating winless Shepard. And in case Evergreen coach Dan Hartman seeks an additional reason for his athletes to take the Astros seriously, he can point to the 2012 matchup between the programs, a contest Shepard won by establishing a single-game school record for points.
The Mustangs will then visit Reavis in Week 9.
Eisenhower 0 0 7 6 - 13
Evergreen Park 14 7 0 0 - 21