Anthony Cloyd wasn't going to let Millard South lose another close game to rival Millard North.
The three-year starting quarterback broke loose for a 29-yard touchdown with 3:03 left Thursday night for the Patriots' only lead in a 20-16 televised victory over the state's preseason No. 1 team.
In last year's 13-0 season, Millard North edged the Patriots 12-10 in the opening game and 38-35 in the Class A state semifinals.
“They're a great team and you can't take anything away from them,'' Cloyd said. “But (the losses) definitely fueled us the entire summer. Every rep we did in the weight room we thought about the Mustangs and it was a great feeling to come out on top finally.”
The Mustangs had leads of 13-0 after the game's first eight minutes and 16-6 at halftime, but went scoreless in the second half in the Buell Stadium game played before an estimated 5,000 on a hot evening.
Preseason No. 6 Millard South had gained only 46 yards in the first half and needed a 32-yard punt return by Cody Knapp to set up a 25-yard touchdown drive.
The Patriots' second half started with a lost fumble at their 40 midway through the third quarter, but they forced a Millard North punt and scored on their next two possessions.
Knapp's 15-yard touchdown run on a double reverse on the first play of the final quarter gave the Patriots life at 16-13. On the drive, a 32-yard screen pass from Cloyd to Ryan DeVries nearly doubled their yardage for the game.
With 5:46 left, Terry Jeub, a junior lineman, recovered a fumble by Millard North starting quarterback Clay Fisher at the Patriots 26.
Fisher, who led the Mustangs with 143 rushing yards and their two touchdowns, had guided his team from its 20 to the Patriots 20 before a holding penalty wiped out a third-down conversion the play before his backfield fumble.
Facing second-and-22 after a holding call on his team, Cloyd picked up 20 and 10 yards on the next two plays. A personal foul for a late hit by the Mustangs got Millard South to the Millard North 35. On second-and-4, Cloyd scored the go-ahead touchdown.
He finished with 70 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
“A lot of new guys were playing their first varsity game,'' Cloyd said. “We all settled in, the coaches got us the right play calls and I think we executed a lot better than the first half.”
Millard North lost one of four fumbles and had 11 penalties for 96 yards. The Mustangs also saw running back-defensive end Adrrell Taylor ejected in the first half for a flagrant foul. He also must sit out next week's game against preseason No. 2 Millard West.
“We made mistakes, no question about it,'' Millard North coach Fred Petito said. “We've lost the first game before and been OK.”
He said he saw too many players leave the game with cramps, even though hydration was emphasized during the week.
“And they were prime-time guys we need in there,'' Petito said.
Like his quarterback, Millard South coach Andy Means was proud of how a team with 16 new starters responded.
Millard North's touchdowns came on a 13-yard possession after a 23-yard punt return by Avram Tynes and a 55-yard drive.
“They grew up a lot between halves,'' Means said. “At halftime we said just to stay with it. Things were settling down.
“Now the test is whether we can do this again next week.”
Millard North (0-1) ................................ 13 3 0 0—16
At Millard South (1-0) ............................ 0 6 0 14—20
MN: Clay Fisher 1 run (Jack Thompson kick)
MN: Fisher 14 run (kick failed)
MS: Anthony Cloyd 1 run (PAT failed)
MN: FG Thompson 30
MS: Cody Knapp 15 run (Botkin kick)
MS: Cloyd 29 run (Botkin kick)
A: 5,000 (est.)
RUSHING: MN, Fisher 31-143, Grant DeVries 14-78, Jacob Humber 2-9, Jacob Matthew 3-17, Avram Tynes 3-25, Gunnar Orcutt 1-2, team 1-minus 2. MS, Cloyd 14-70, Knapp 7-27, Anthony Rosenthal 5-31, Ryan DeVries 8-31.
PASSING: MN, Fisher 2-6-0 44. MS, Cloyd 3-6-0 44.
RECEIVING: MN, Humber 1-26, Taras Kotsan 1-18. MS, DeVries 2-36, Kyle McMindes 1-8.