MINEOLA — After tough preseason schedules, coaches love to talk about the importance of the "games that count," but no coach knows that more than Van's Jared Moffatt who guided his Van Vandals to their first win of the season, a 50-14 victory over District 15-3A rival Mineola Friday Night at Meredith Memorial Stadium.
"We were real close in some of the early games," said Moffatt, "but there's nothing like winning a game, so coming into district and finding a way to win this first one, it's big for them (his players) to get a win. Your first district game is always important."
Mineola (3-3) played this game tough, especially in the first half, trading scores with the Vandals until Van pulled ahead for good with 1:17 remaining in the second quarter.
Van (1-5) started the scoring and did so in grand fashion. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Deundre Johnson followed his blockers around the left end and then sprinted away from Yellowjacket defenders for a 54-yard touchdown.
Mineola bounced back two possessions later putting together a nice 10-play 51 yard drive of their own, capped by a 16 yard run by Jeremiah Crawford.
The two teams exchanged scores, Van with another quick strike, this time a 51 yard pass from Peter Maddox to Luke McGowan and Mineola on another long drive capped this time by Rhett Self's 16 yard run.
Van appeared more physical overall and especially in the second half, but the biggest setback for the Yellowjackets came when starting quarterback, freshman Jeremiah Crawford was tackled awkwardly on the home sideline and remained facedown after the play.
He never came back in the game, and in fact, never even stood up again.
The medical crew attended to him, immobilized his leg and took him to a local hospital.
Without their man at QB, the Yellowjacket offense struggled and the Vandal defense took advantage of the opportunity allowing only 31 net yards of offense to the struggling Mineola squad.
"To hold together and keep battling," Moffatt said, "and to play like we did in the second half, getting the district win is always big."
For Van, none bigger than this one.
Van 50, Mineola 14
At Mineola's Meredith Memorial Stadium
Mineola 7 7 0 0—14
VAN-Deundre Johnson 54 run (Josef Ruiz kick); 10:45.
MIN-Jeremiah Crawford 16 run (Willie Tinajero kick); 2:48.
VAN-Luke McGowan 51 pass from Peter Maddox (Ruiz kick); 8:26.
MIN-Rhett Self 16 run (Tinajero kick); 3:35.
VAN-Matt Savis 5 run (Ruiz kick); 1:17.
VAN-Layton Myers 13 pass from Maddox (Ruiz kick); 7:44.
VAN-Savis 1 run (Ruiz kick); 2:11.
VAN- Safety TEAM; 11:48
VAN-Aphonso Thomas 35 run (Ruiz kick); 11:31
VAN-Deundre Johnson 51 run (PAT pass failed); 9:05.
First Downs 20 10
Rushes-Yards 44-332 42-141
Passing Yards 163 24
Comp.-Att.-Int. 8-12-0 3-6-1
Punts-Avg. 1-34 5-32.6
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2+1
Penalties-Yards 7-70 1-15
RUSHING—Van, Deundre Johnson 6-124, Matt Savis 20-126, Aphonso Thomas 9-84, Cody Jones 3-9, Peter Maddox 4-3, Lucas Sartain 1-(minus 6), Kendrick Jones 1-(minus 8). Mineola, Rhett Self 12-70, Chantz Perkins 9-31, Jeremiah Crawford 8-17, Shane Burge 5-16, Blake Whitney 4-4, Kourtland Sinches 4-3.
PASSING—Van, Peter Maddox 8-12-0 163. Mineola, Jeremiah Crawford 3-5-1 24, Blake Whitney 0-1-0 0.
RECEIVING—Van, Layton Myers 3-90, Luke McGowan 2-71, Kendrick Jones 3-2. Mineola, Blake Whitney 2-19, Rhett Self 1-5.