Felter, Mac roll over Ike
It was essentially the same song, but a different verse.
In 2016, MacArthur held a tenuous halftime lead against Eisenhower before pulling away in the second half. Friday's season opener at Cameron Stadium was played to a similar tune, as a game that was tied at 21 in the 3rd quarter ended up as a 56-29 Highlander victory.
Nick Mahan ran for 221 yards on 37 carries, providing the Mac offense a workhouse on which they could lean.
But it was the two-quarterback system that was the story of the night for Mac. JR Winningham started throwing shorter passes but eventually the big plays came as he completed passes of 26, 40 and 42 yards. The senior ended the night 12-for-16 for 182 yards and a touchdown pass.
But it was their other quarterback, sophomore Racer Felter, who stole the show, running for 138 yards and five touchdowns. Coach Brett Manning said he knew the ability Felter had, but said the performance was a pleasant surprise and perhaps a glimpse at what is to come.
"I probably wouldn't have guessed he'd get five touchdowns," Manning said. "But he's a great athlete and I think we're going to have three really good years of Racer Felter."
Eisenhower coach Mike Burris said he and his staff were aware of the threat Felter could pose. He said the right defensive schemes were dialed up, just not always executed.
"We told the kids, 'when he comes in, they're not going to throw it. They're going to run the ball,'" Burris said. "We missed some gaps, we weren't gap-sound. We had the right calls, we just didn't get to the gap like we were supposed to."
Neither team was able to get the upper hand during the early stages. A MacArthur punt pinned the Eagles on their own 1-yard-line. Burris gambled and won when quarterback/punter RJ Fisher a 4th down on a fake punt on the Ike 10. Three plays later, running back Kenneth Graham broke off an 80-yard run to the end zone. A two-point conversion gave the Eagles an 8-0 advantage.
Mac responded with a methodical 10-play, 60-yard drive in which they didn't attempt a pass. The drive ended with a Racer Felter touchdown jaunt from 23 yards out to cut the deficit to one.
Mac appeared to gain the upper hand in the second quarter as they forced an Ike punt and saw a sputtering drive extended by a personal foul called against the Eagles. Mahan was again tasked with carrying the offense and he obliged, toting the ball 11 times for 65 yards on that drive along, capping it with an 8-yard touchdown rumble.
Not daunted by the Highlanders' lofty No. 3 ranking, the Eagles fired right back. On the first play of the drive, after a good kickoff return gave them the ball at midfield, Fisher appeared to be bottled up in the backfield. He eluded the defense and ran all the way to the end zone to give Ike back the lead, 15-14.