The McCutcheon Mavericks played like they were the state-ranked team at Ellison Stadium, matching their big-play prowess on offense with a hard-nosed defensive effort to whip Zionsville 30-6 Saturday, wrapping up a weather-delayed contest.
The game was interrupted by two lightning delays Friday.
Zionsville entered the game ranked No. 3 in Class 5A after a 14-7 victory last week against Lafayette Jeff, but was outplayed on both sides of the football by the Mavericks Friday and Saturday.
Maverick running back Nate Deno rushed for 200 yards on 18 carries, including touchdown runs of 44 yards on Friday and 42 yards on Saturday. He had another 61-yard run in the third quarter that set up a short Jake Shake field goal.
“This gives us a lot of confidence, but we’re not going to get cocky,” Deno said. “We’re going to stay humble and hungry. If we can get it done today, we should be able to get it done any other Friday. It’s huge for us to be able to move the ball like this early in the season, especially against a team like Zionsville.”
Deno’s backfield mate, Blake Elming, had the game’s biggest receiving play. With McCutcheon holding on to a 13-6 lead in the fourth quarter, Elming slipped out of the backfield undetected and QB Jami Frier found him wide open down the right sideline for a 77 catch-and-run TD to give the Mavericks a two-score advantage.
“He’s hard to defend (Deno) in the open field,” McCutcheon coach Ken Frauhiger said. “Nate’s our guy, and Elming is right there. It’s hard to defend one of them. Our kids up front blocked pretty well, and we challenged them again this morning. I’m very pleased with our kids.”
McCutcheon’s defense may have been the biggest surprise Saturday after it gave up 49 points in the opener against Brownsburg. The Mavericks surrendered 149 yards rushing, 66 of those coming on Josh Hinkle’s touchdown run in the first quarter Friday.
The Mavericks’ front line, anchored by James Hopkins and Matt Platko, gave the Eagles’ ground game fits and helped apply heavy pressure in passing situations.
It was the defense that kept the contest in McCutcheon’s favor. Zionsville had a nine-play drive going Friday before the second delay, moving the ball to the Mavs’ 28 with a first down, and McCutcheon up 10-6.
When play resumed Saturday, though, McCutcheon stuffed Matt Cramer for a four-yard loss on the first play and Zionsville eventually turned the ball over on downs without scoring.
McCutcheon held a 13-6 lead when the Eagles started moving the ball again, going on a 13-play drive that ran from 4:26 of the third quarter to inside the 11-minute mark of the fourth.
After Zionsville advanced to the McCutcheon 26, the Mavericks shut the door again, forcing Hinkle to misfire on two passes and holding him to short gains on the other two downs.
“McCutcheon just did an outstanding job,” Zionsville coach Larry McWhorter said. “I’ll take the blame. I didn’t have them very well prepared (Friday) night and had them even less prepared (Saturday). We didn’t do much, but McCutcheon had a lot to do with that.”
Maverick kicker Shake connected on field goals of 46, 20 and 32 yards to help stretch McCutcheon’s lead.
“He’s phenomenal to have,” Frauhiger said. “Any time we get to the 35-yard line, we can score. That is huge for us, and I know he’s really worked hard for this.”