Mundy’s Mill quarterback Rodricous Gates, right, tries to avoid a tackle by Ola defensive back Connor Schlottman in the first half of Friday’s subregion game at Twelve Oaks Stadium. (Special Photo: Jason Mussell).
HAMPTON — As expected, Mundy’s Mill senior Rodney Smith had a big game on Senior Night for the Tigers football team.
But what made the standout running back happy was seeing his teammates step up big in Friday’s 54-10 win over Ola as the Tigers clinched first place in Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
Smith rushed for 108 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown in the win, but he acknowledged that the night belonged to his teammates.
Junior quarterback Rodricous Gates played a big role as he passed for three touchdowns as the Tigers improved to 5-4 overall and 5-0 in the subregion.
“It was a great win, and we needed to see others step up as we head into the play-in game,” said Smith, who came into the game with 1,120 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“This was a big game, and we did what we had to do,” said Gates, who passed for 137 yards. “I think I started off slow but got better as the game went on. We needed this win to give us some momentum going into next week.”
A win next week for Mundy’s Mill gives them a playoff berth.
“I really like the way the team has played the last few games,” Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior said. “The defense has been playing lights out and the special teams have been solid.”
Despite giving up the 10 points to Ola, the Tigers defense played well throughout the contest, allowing only seven first downs.
After fumbling the opening kickoff, the Mundy’s Mill defense held with Ola starting its first drive on the Tigers’ 33. However, Mundy’s Mill held and forced a punt after the Mustangs gained only two yards on the drive.
On the next drive, Smith capped a 65-yard drive with a 22-yard run with 8:32 remaining in the first quarter.
The Tigers scored on all four of their first half drives, and only punt once the entire game.
“It felt good seeing a total team effort out there,” Manior said. “We also had some other seniors that don’t normally get to play that much do their thing. I thought everyone did a good job.”
Even the Tigers defense got in on the scoring.
Junior defensive back Gerald Miller returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown with 54 seconds remaining in the third quarter. It gave the Tigers a 40-10 lead going into the final quarter.
After Mundy’s Mill jumped to a 20-0 lead in the second quarter, Ola kicker Cam Corley booted a 37-yard field goal with 2:58 remaining in the opening half. On the ensuing drive, Gates would connect with Marquis Kempson for a 25-yard scoring play as the Tigers lead 27-3 at the intermission.
Ola would close the gap to 34-10 on a 59-yard pass play, and then recovered the onside kick.
But the Tigers’ defense would rise to the occasion as Miller intercepted a pass on the third play and returned it for a score.
“We have to put this one behind us, and get ready for a big game next week,” Smith said. “Our focus has been on getting to the playoffs.”