The Mustangs controlled the momentum from the opening kickoff through the final whistle, as they whipped their District 8-1A rivals 32-14.
It was the first home game for Overton since the 2009 season and the Mustangs initiated the new facility with a victory worthy of its namesake: Coach Chester Roy.
Overton head coach/athletic director Arthur “Bo” Talkington praised his players for rising to the challenge of facing the Class 1A powerhouse that beat them 30-9 in 2010.
“It was a tremendous effort, I’m just proud of the heart they showed out there tonight,” he said. “It’s a great win, and we’re going to enjoy it, but we still have a long season ahead of us.”
At the controls of the Green Machine offense was junior quarterback K.J. Luster, who passed and ran for a touchdown, while tacking on two two-point conversions.
“Great win,” he said. “We’ve been working hard and it’s great to start the season with a ‘W.'”
Overton rolled up nearly 300 yards of total offense, paced by sophomore fullback Jamal Kelly who led all rushers with 147 yards on 21 carries and 2 touchdowns.
“The line did a great job of creating openings for me,” he said. “I was just trying to take what the defense gave and it worked out for us tonight.”
Cayuga’s high-flying offense never got off the ground, spending most of the night going backwards with 75 penalty yards.
“It was a good pass, I just had the position on it and was able to come down with the pick,” he said.
Cayuga fared better on the ground but still managed just 99 yards on 31 attempts.
“I thought I was home free but someone caught my foot and tripped me up,” he said with a laugh. “I wanted it though.”
Overton then proceeded to march the remaining 41 yards behind a punishing, methodical rushing attack that burned nearly four minutes off the clock. With 7:31 remaining in the first quarter Kelly bullied through the Cayuga defense for a one-yard touchdown.
Luster rolled out and threw a perfect strike to senior Tim Hawkins for the conversion.
“It hit me right in the hands,” Hawkins said. “I could’ve caught it with my eyes closed.”
Cayuga took over on their own 34 and came out throwing, moving swiftly to the Mustang 20 yard-line before great stops by seniors John Blaylock, Marqui Burfict, and Austin McCasland forced them to kick. The field goal was short and Overton took over.
Both teams traded possession back and forth with Cayuga moving in fits and starts, reeling off a big play between several stops by a Mustang defense that would bend but not break. Meanwhile Overton seemed content to simply run down the clock and wear down the defense with power plays and traps.
The Wildcats finally got on the board with 8:26 in the second quarter, with Nash hitting his receiver in stride for a 28-yard touchdown. The kick was good and Cayuga trailed 8-7.
As the first half began to wane Cayuga tried mixing it up, trading the rollout passes for zone-read keepers from Nash and counters with the speedy Wildcat halfbacks.
The Mustang defense was not impressed.
Sophomore defensive end Aden Williams swarmed in from the backside while junior linebackers Austin Cook and Greg Moore mixed up blitzes and coverage, keeping Nash off-balance and forcing him out of the pocket repeatedly.
As the half was running out Cayuga started to build momentum and threatened to score, before Kelly blitzed around the right side, nailing Nash for a 13-yard loss to end the half.
Cayuga continued to struggle in the second half, while the Green Machine began to warm up. On the Wildcats first play from scrimmage junior linebacker Jesse Roach dropped Nash nine yards behind the line for another sack. Three plays later Cayuga was punting.
After trading possession back and forth Cayuga started to show life once again, until Phillips rocked the Wildcat halfback in the backfield, forcing a fumble that was greedily scooped up by Roach at the Cayuga 44-yard-line.
A few hard-nosed runs from Luster, Kelly, and Hawkins had the Mustangs knocking on the door. Then with 4:57 left in the third Luster calmly dropped back and hit a slanting Hawkins over the middle for a 28-yard touchdown.
Luster took the two-pointer in himself, leaping over a group of Wildcat defenders at the sideline for the score, and Overton now led 16-7.
Still trying to move the ball Cayuga’s offense was stymied at midfield when Cook and sophomore defensive end T.J. Lewis rocked Nash again, this time for a loss of six. Three-and-out and Cayuga was forced once again to kick it away.
Taking the punt at his own 30, Hawkins zigzagged his way to a 31-yard return and setting up the Mustangs next score.
Talkington mixed up his signal callers and his plays, pushing Cayuga back with each run, before Kelly dove in from the one. The conversion was true and with 11:16 left in the game it was now 24-7.
Hopes fading Cayuga tried a number of deceptive gimmicks in an effort to generate some quick points, but each time their hopes were crushed.
With the ball and the game well in hand, Overton delivered its knockout punch.
Kelly took the handoff around the right side, shaking off Wildcats defenders with ease and outrunning the secondary en route to a 41-yard run before being tripped up short of the goal line. A few plays later it was Luster again for the touchdown, with McCasland providing the conversion and the final score for the Mustangs on the night.
“We’ve still got a lot to work on defensively, but we had some guys make big plays when we needed it,” Talkington said. “Right now we’re 1-0, and it’s great, but Monday morning we’ve got to come back in here and get ready for a very competitive 2A squad in Union Grove.”
Overton hosts 1-0 Union Grove at Coach Chester Roy Stadium on Friday night, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.