After allowing 93 points over the first two weeks of the season, Metea Valley football coach Ben Kleinhans wanted to see improvement on defense.
Improvement is just what he got as the Mustangs have now played two consecutive weeks allowing just one score, this time defeating host Bartlett 20-6 in Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division action on Friday at Millennium Field.
After a scoreless first half, the Hawks (1-3, 1-1) scored first but a career night from running back Jay Parker helped the Mustangs (2-2, 2-0) get rolling the rest of the second half. Parker ran for 181 yards on 29 carries and added a 27-yard TD run with 5:44 left in the game for the final score.
"The key for me was to be steady and respect the little yards," Parker said. "The last couple of weeks I've broken some big runs, but I wasn't able to break too many of those against Bartlett. Those little runs keep the chains moving though, and the line did a nice job tonight."
Bartlett's defense helped set up the Hawks' scoring drive as it stopped a fourth-and-1 run by Parker to give the offense good field position at the Metea Valley 46-yard line. Bartlett QB Jordan Flint (11-for-21, 152 yards) broke a 15-yard run to start the drive, and Matthew Callahan capped it with a 5-yard run for the 6-0 lead with 6:41 left in the third.
After the Mustangs blocked the extra point attempt, their offense scored twice on their next two possessions. The first came when quarterback Blaise Bell (11-for-18, 117 yards) threw an 11-yard TD pass to Nick Dodson, and Bryson Oliver added a 10-yard TD run as Metea Valley grabbed a 14-6 lead 7 seconds into the fourth quarter.
"We didn't keep our heads down after their touchdown, and we wanted to put the fire out right away," Parker said.
A week after gaining 316 rushing yards, the Hawks were held to just 64 against the Mustangs. Metea's defense also forced 2 turnovers in the fourth quarter when Thomas Ensminger intercepted Bartlett running back Nolan Bernat and also recovered a fumble after Mitch Waller forced the ball out.
"I couldn't be more proud of my defense from week 1 till now," Kleinhans said. "We just rallied the troops after the first two weeks. We just got tough and said we need to fix this."
"Parker, he's a heck of a player, and we struggled to contain him," Hawks coach Tom Meaney said. "We did a nice job up until halftime, but we struggled in the second half on both sides of the ball."