MUNCIE – It was hard to say what impressed more, the performance or the comeback.
With how the season has gone, the Delta football team could have just closed up shop when it fell behind by 14 points at home Friday night to rival Yorktown. Instead, the Eagles answered with a few big plays to spark an explosion of a rally, and it didn’t hurt how tailback Zach Mills chipped in 360 rushing yards and five touchdowns in a record-setting night.
“The heart of this team is huge,” Delta coach Grant Zgunda said. “I really like this team.
“They just keep playing.”
When the damage was done, Delta had a 58-28 win to snap a three-game skid in the cross-county series and put its season back on course. The Eagles (2-2) were in the midst of their worst start since before anyone on their roster was born, but a 31-point explosion in the third quarter keyed a 46-0 run that swung the game around.
And that began late in the second quarter after the Eagles had to cut the deficit from 20-6 to 20-12, and Yorktown missed a 31-yard field goal with less than half a minute to go in the half.
Quarterback Ryley Pease opened the drive with a 25-yard pass to the 6-foot-5 Mitchell Hahn. After a Mills draw, Pease again lofted the ball to his top targets who broke a tackle and covered the final 44 yards to the end zone as the quarter ran out.
“The chemistry we had went back to middle school, seventh grade,” Hahn said. “I think just all the years helps us.”
The score tied the game, and the drive accounted for all of the Eagles passing yards before halftime. For the Tigers (2-2), it proved catastrophic.
“That was just a huge play,” Yorktown coach Mike Wilhelm said. “We couldn’t recover from it obviously. I thought we pretty much dominated the first 23 minutes of the game, and the last minute of the second half turned it all around.
“We couldn’t recover, and it showed in the second half. We were not in sync in anything we did.”
After running up to 178 yards before halftime, Yorktown could only move the ball for 77 on 27 plays after the break. Quarterback Brogan Miller finished with 218 yards and Dawson Allen ran for 80.
They might’ve been slowed, but Mills was not.
The short, shifty runner scored on runs of 69, 8, 25, 27 and 11 yards. He broke tackles, juked safeties and walked off the field after a 19-yard run helped him surpass the old record of 342 yards.
“In the first quarter, I knew they couldn’t stop me,” Mills said. “So I knew it was going to be a big night.
“Our line was blocking amazing, shout out to them.”
It’s hard to understate the emotional importance of the game for Delta. The Eagles are coming off back-to-back losses by a single point and seemed out of sorts across several phases of the game.
Friday night wasn’t perfect, but it was a reminder of what they are capable of and what can still lie ahead.
“I’m just real proud of them,” Zgunda said. “I’m proud of the fact they were able to go through the past couple weeks. We just felt like we were a little better than we played. We just didn’t get it done.
“This was nice.”
This is sports writer Ben Breiner’s final story for The Star Press. He is moving on to a position with The State in Columbia, South Carolina. He has deeply enjoyed his three years in East Central Indiana and the many people he had the chance to meet along the way.