DULUTH - Senior Scott Morton kicked five field goals, three of them from long range, and the Mill Creek defense allowed only two second-half first downs, as the Hawks posted an 21-6 win over Duluth at Cecil Morris Field.
The strong second half on defense salvaged the night for Mill Creek (2-2, 1-1), which had to overcome 80 yards in penalties, 60 of them in the first half. The Hawks limited Duluth (1-3, 0-2) to 72 yards, caused one fumble and intercepted a pass. That enabled them to ride Morton's potent leg.
"I can't remember ever kicking five in one game," Morton said.
He made field goals of 50, 47, 48, 33 and 26 in setting a school record. After drilling those long kicks with ease, Morton somehow missed his only extra point attempt.
Mill Creek coach Shannon Jarvis appreciated the effort by Morton, but wasn't pleased that his team's offense wasn't able to punch a few of those in for touchdowns rather than settle for field goals.
"Our defense didn't play bad in the first half, we just kept getting those stupid penalties," Jarvis said.
At least they didn't get cheated; four of their seven first-half penalties were for 10 yards or more.
But Jarvis and his assistants made it a point to address the mistakes at halftime. The result was a cleaner, more efficient second half.
"We got after it a little more," Jarvis said. "I didn't like the way we were going to the football. We charged them with getting after it."
The charges were accepted. Dre Spearman recovered a fumbled exchange to set up Mill Creek's only touchdown, a quick-hitting 23-yard run up the middle by Devonte Lewis, who then intercepted a pass on Duluth's next possession.
Mill Creek's offense fared pretty well between the 20s. Keshawn Bussey ran 13 times for 70 yards, Tyler Cierski carried eight times for 31 yards, and Lewis rushed six times for 46 yards. Quarterback John Russ completed 7 of 13 passes for 68 yards. Bussey caught three passes for 21 yards.
"We had to use a tailback by committee approach," Jarvis said. "Our coaches did a good job rolling kids in and our of there."
Duluth used a pair of quarterbacks to spice up its attack. Alex Fragoso completed only 4 of 12 passes for 38 yards and was intercepted once. Anfronee Stewart filled a role as a "Wildcat" quarterback and had limited success as a runner, gaining 19 yards on nine carries. Henry Enyenihi rushed 10 times for 27 yards.