“Their (defensive) ends crashed a little bit, and they played real well,” Batson said. “They crashed, they mixed up their schemes, but we took advantage of it. We attacked the defensive ends, attacked the linebackers.”
Hartshorne never breached Millwood's red zone in the second half, the Miners' best drive stalling with an interception at the Falcons 30. The Miners twice breached the red zone in the first half, getting a 34-yard field goal from LaMarcus Morris in the first quarter and a 3-yard touchdown run by Dallas Herring in the second.
Hartshorne’s only touchdown drive began at the Millwood 35, the Miners getting an interception and 23-yard return from Troy Ray. Quarterback Dylan Pingleton then connected with Ray for a 23-yard pass to the 12.
Facing 2-and-11 at the 13, Trey Medicine Bear rushed for 10 on a double-reverse, then Pingleton picked up the first down with a 2-yard rush. The Miners lost 2 yards on a sack, but on second-and-goal Herring ran it in to cut Millwood’s lead to 12-9.
Hartshorne's offense struggled against a physical Millwood defensive front that held the Miners to just 2.9 yards per running play. When Pingleton dropped back to pass, he rarely had enough time to let his receivers get open before a Millwood defender swarmed in, disrupting the pass and six times resulting in a sack.
“They were pretty athletic and physical,” Pingleton said of Millwood’s defensive line and linebackers. He completed 39 percent of his passes for 114 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
Millwood’s defense also improved after halftime, allowing the Miners 104 total yards, just four first downs and no points.
“We saw some things that were leaving us vulnerable (in the first half),” Darwin said.
“We saw some things that were going on, and some of it was self-imposed, and some of it was alignment on their part that we weren’t prepared for. But we went in and discussed it and got with our guys and made sure they understood.”