ATLANTIC – It all came down to attitude.
As Jackson McLaren summarized after Atlantic’s 37-13 win over Shenandoah Friday night at the Trojan Bowl: “We came out with a lot of energy. We had a lot of energy this week and we had a good week of practice. It was attitude , and we knew we could come out and play a good game.
“Shenandoah was a good team but we knew if we played with a lot of energy we’d win the game.”
That the Trojans did in picking up their first victory of the season. After two shutout losses, the Trojans simply needed to show better attitude.
It was the Mustangs, who were coming off an impressive win over Nodaway Valley, that paid the price.
McLaren and his cousin, Garrett, imposed their wills on the Mustangs. They, along with quarterback Caden Andersen, combined for four touchdowns and rolling up 315 yards total offense.
It began with Jackson McLaren running an out play, scrambling 11 yards and concentrating as he got the ball past the right side of the cone to put the Trojans up 6-0 midway through the first quarter.
Shenandoah answered right back with a 57-yard touchdown reception by Brody Cullin that put the Mustangs up 7-6. It was the only time the Mustangs would lead, as the Trojans eventually came up with a big defensive play midway through the second period.
“Their quarterback (Nolan Mount) didn’t throw a good throw and I had to run for my life, really, and I ended up in the end zone,” said Jackson McLaren on his 52-yard pick-six that put the Trojans up 14-7, and a lead they’d never give up.
G-Mac – as he’s often called – then came up with a big 12-yard touchdown reception from Andersen 1:09 left before half to give the Trojans a comfortable 21-7 halftime lead.
“We had a slant route at the end zone to get (the) lead before the half, so that felt really good. We ran the out route on the other end zone, made a couple of guys miss on that throw and Caden did a good job scrambling and extending the play.”
McLaren added a second touchdown reception with 5:17 left in the third on his 31-yard reception from Andersen, their second hook-up of the night to make it 28-7.
Colton Becker came up with a huge safety just six seconds into the fourth quarter, before the Trojans cashed in on the ground game. Dante Hedrington went in from 2 yards out with 9:32 left to seal the outcome. Both sides sent in substitutes late in the game, when Shenandoah got their only other score.
Andersen was much better this week in the passing game, going 5-for-8 with no interceptions, the three touchdowns and 134 yards. Garrett McLaren had 86 yards on just three catches, with Dayton Templeton grabbing a 37-yard throw.
Defensively, the Trojans were stout, forcing four interceptions with four different Trojans in on the fun. Besides Jackson McLaren’s pick-six, Ethan Sturm, Logan Terrell, and Garrett McLaren all picked off Mount at one point or another.
Coach Joe Brummer, who picked up his first career win, was pleased with his team’s effort.
“We played two complete halves,” said Brummer. “The defense was clicking and we ran the ball well and got more turnovers with them. We didn’t win the penalty battle but they’re aggressive penalties that we’ll take.”
Besides the McLarens, Brummer was also happy with several others.
“The O’Brien cousins (Easton and Tanner) were flying around, and Tanner’s doing a great job at fullback and giving us some holes,” he said. “Dante (Hedrington) was doing a great job running the ball and we definitely imposed our will up front.”
The Trojans (1-2) have one more non-district game, to be played next Friday at Ballard. The Bombers picked up a 26-0 win over Boone in a non-district game for their first win of the season.