VAN — Mineola scored on its opening drive with Van answering shortly thereafter.
And that continued for an entire half and into the third quarter when Mineola finally stopped scoring. But Van never did, eventually winning 69-41 Friday at Memorial Stadium.
It was the District 15-3A opener for both with Van (5-1, 1-0) getting the start it wanted while Mineola drops to 3-3 and 0-1.
The two teams combined for a jaw dropping 793 yards rushing. Van sophomore running back Matt Savis carried 18 times for 226 yards and had 128 yards receiving, totaling three touchdowns. Vandals quarterback Garrett Smallwood was even more impressive, passing for 276 yards and six touchdowns with receiver Luke McGowan catching three of them.
Not to be outdone, Mineola tailback Rhett Self rushed for 205 yards with Devon Foster totaling 132 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Tyler Hudson scored three times while gutting through an ankle injury.
The score was 41-34 at halftime, thanks to Van turning Mineola's only turnover on the night into a much-needed seven-point cushion. Layton Myers picked off a halfback pass by Mineola with a minute to play and returned it to near midfield.
A 50-yard pass play to Savis put the Vandals at the two. With 11 seconds remaining, Van senior Sid Moore bulldozed in to put the Vandals in front at halftime.
Van got the ball to open the second half and drove 55 yards in eight plays, capped by 9-yard scoring strike from Smallwood to make the score 48-34.
Mineola, like it had done all night, provided a quick answer after a 50-yard kickoff return by Harry Elhallaoui eventually led to a 1-yard touchdown sneak by Hudson.
Van scored its ninth touchdown in 10 possessions to answer with Smallwood connecting on a 30-yard strike to Carson Rucker. This made the score 55-41, and this time, Mineola did not have an answer.
The Vandals tacked on another TD in the fourth quarter to complete its district-opening win.
The Yellowjackets began the game, knowing senior linebacker/running back Dac Shaw would be unable to play due to injury.
Any illusions about this hurting Mineola's offense were dispelled quickly as Self carved up Van's defense and was about to go into the end zone on a 21-yard touchdown run before fumbling. Luckily, teammate Casey Gilbreath recovered it and scored. It was one of two times in the first half for Self to fumble the ball just before scoring and a teammate recovering for a Yellowjacket touchdown.
Van's quick-strike offense was also impressive in the first half as Smallwood and Savis took turns making big plays.
Mineola took leads of 14-7, 21-14, 28-20 and 34-28, but a missed extra point enabled Van to go in front and the Vandals never trailed after that.
Van 69, Mineola 41
At Memorial Stadium, Van
Mineola 21 13 7 0 — 41
Van 14 27 21 7 — 69
MIN—Casey Gilbreath 4 fumble return (Brandon Melo kick), 8:00.
VAN—Luke McGowan 16 pass from Garrett Smallwood (Grijalva kick), 5:44
MIN—Tyler Hudson 5 run (Melo kick), 3:22.
VAN—Matt Savis 71 pass from Smallwood (Grijalva kick), 2:23
MIN—Hudson 1 run (Melo kick), :30
VAN—McGowan 20 pass from Smallwood (kick failed), 11:30.
MIN—Harry Elhalloui recovers fumble in end zone (Melo kick), 5:20
VAN—Savis 29 run (Smallwood pass to Austin Lockwood), 3:57
MIN—Devon Foster 61 run (kick failed), 3:38.
VAN—Andrew Platter 21 pass from Smallwood (Grijalva kick), 2:03
VAN—Sid Moore 2 run (kick blocked), :11.
VAN—McGowan 9 pass from Smallwood (Grijalva kick), 9:18.
MIN—Hudson 1 run (Melo kick), 8:38.
VAN—Carson Rucker 30 pass from Smallwood (Grijalva kick), 7:15
VAN—Savis 17 run (Grijalva kick), :43
VAN—Hunter Hopkins 75 run (Grijalva kick), 8:29.
EST. ATT. —2,000.
First Downs 22 29
Rushes-Yards 53-361 37-432
Passing Yards 83 276
Comp.-Att.-Int. 8-18-1 15-21-1
Punts-Avg. 1-48 1-28
Fumbles-Lost 4-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 7-55 11-105
RUSHING—Mineola, Rhett Self 29-205, Devon Foster 8-132, Juan Vargas 3-14, Tyler Hudson 10-10, Casey Gilbreath 1-5, Blake Whitney 2-(minus 5). Van, Matt Savis 18-226, Hunter Hopkins 2-108, Garrett Smallwood 10-85, Sid Moore 3-8, Aphonso Thomas 4-5.
PASSING—Mineola, Hudson 8-17-0 83; Harry Elhallaoui 0-1-1 0. Van, Smallwood 15-21-1 276.
RECEIVING—Mineola, Elhallaoui 6-58, Foster 1-19, Deandre Stephens 1-6. Van, McGowan 8-77, Savis 3-128, Andrew Platter 3-50, Carson Rucker 1-30.