Mart coach Kevin Hoffman saw what he wanted to see from his team at halftime.
No sign of panic.
The Panthers clung to a 16-14 lead after McGregor put up two first-half touchdowns to take a ton of momentum into the locker room at halftime.
“They were as calm as can be,” Hoffman said. “They’ve seen it before. We want to be in tough games. That’s why we play the schedule we do.”
Mart responded by scoring 27 unanswered points and cruised to a 43-22 win over to spoil homecoming at McGregor.
MART — In district play alone last season, Mart whipped its competition by a combined score …
Even after fumbling away the second-half kickoff, Mart proceeded to sack McGregor quarterback Jared Lorenz for a 10-yard loss on fourth down to turn the Bulldogs away from what proved to be their only scoring opportunity with the game’s outcome still in doubt.
Mart scored on four straight possessions to break the game open, turning a 16-14 halftime lead into a 43-14 advantage early in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Jace Terry threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Bailey to give Mart its first second-half touchdown and a 22-14 lead. He also scored on runs of four and five yards during the 27-0 outburst.
McGregor fumbled away the ensuing kickoff return, and set the Panthers up at the 26-yard line, where it took only four plays to find the end zone with Bailey scoring from four yards out for a 30-14 lead.
“The kickoff (fumble) was where the game turned,” McGregor coach Judd Thrash said. “We stayed with them in the first half, and had a chance. But the turnovers just killed us.”
Terry’s four-yard touchdown run at the 11:26 mark of the fourth quarter gave Mart a 36-14 lead and effectively iced it for the Panthers.
Tyrek Horne rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown to lead Mart. Terry had 119 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He also threw for 122 yards on 11-of-19 passing.
Lorenz finished as McGregor’s leading rusher with 63 yards. He also had 92 yards passing – including touchdown passes of 34 and 35 yards.
The Panthers looked like they might make quick work of the Bulldogs early in the game. McGregor fumbled on the game’s opening possession at its own 18 yard line. Mart scored quickly, with quarterback Jace Terry capping the short drive on a five-yard touchdown run. He also found Jalon Kirven for the two-point try for an early 8-0 lead.
McGregor’s second possession got a boost on a 49-yard kickoff return by Michael Irons, but the Bulldogs could not capitalize.
Horne carried the load for Mart on its second drive. His 22-yard run to the McGregor 1 set up the Panthers’ second touchdown. After a penalty, Terry found Zamar Kirven all alone in the end zone for a five-yard touchdown pass. Shatdryick Bailey’s run on the two-point try made it 16-0 at the 4:42 mark of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs had 51 total yards in the first quarter, most of it coming on one play. Their first touchdown came on a 39-yard run by Johnathan Phenix. Joanly Martinez’ PAT made it 16-7 at the 3:02 mark of the first.
After Mart turned it over on downs, McGregor drove to the Panther 34, where quarterback Jared Lorenz connected with Tayvon Thompson on a touchdown pass over the middle on a third-and-18 play. Martinez’ PAT draw the Bulldogs to within two, 16-14, at the 8:16 mark of the second quarter.
“Somewhere down the line, whether it’s in district, or the playoffs, we’re going to be in this situation,” Hoffman said. “We’re going to know what to do because we’ve been there before. We’ve seen this three weeks in a row now.”
Mart, 2-1, plays its home opener next week after ironing out its new turf problems. McGregor slipped to 1-2.