Mt. Pleasant turns in dominating performance, beats Burrell in season opener

Friday, August 27, 2021 | 10:01 PM

Heading into its season opener, Burrell knew it needed to dictate the tempo with its run game.

The Mt. Pleasant defense thwarted the Bucs from establishing anything on offense.

The Vikings capitalized on their short fields and Burrell miscues in a 40-7 nonconference win Friday night at Mt. Pleasant Viking Stadium.

Mt. Pleasant (1-0) was led by junior running back Robbie Labuda, who finished with 110 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries. The Vikings rushed for 382 yards.

Junior quarterback Tyler Reese scored two touchdowns.

“First of all, I think we have a couple kids that can carry it and are pretty good athletes. I think we were getting enough up front today,” Mt. Pleasant coach Jason Fazekas said. “It was a matter of figuring out how they were playing it and how we get the ball in their hands. It took a little time to feel it out there.”

On the Vikings’ opening drive, the Bucs (0-1) forced Mt. Pleasant into a punt situation. However, after a muffed snap and scramble by Reese, the Bucs were flagged for a late hit, which kept the drive alive. A play later, Reese scored on a 25-yard keeper.

After Burrell turned it over on downs, Mt. Pleasant responded with a four-play drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown run by senior Aaron Alakson for a 14-0 lead after the extra point.

Alakson had a 32-yard run to start the drive.

Labuda scored on consecutive drives with a 20-yard run and 46-yard run to extend the lead to 27-0 with less than five minutes remaining in the first half. Labuda’s first touchdown came after a Burrell fumble on the kickoff after the Alakson touchdown.

Reese capped a perfect first half for the Mt. Pleasant offense on a 6-yard run with about 30 seconds remaining in the first half as the Vikings took a 34-0 lead into halftime. The drive started at the Burrell 32-yard line after the Vikings blocked a punt.

The Vikings continued to click offensively in the second half as Labuda scored his third touchdown on a 6-yard run on Mt. Pleasant’s first drive. Alakson’s 26-yard run helped set up the score.

“We got better from last week so we’re going to get better from this week to next week,” Fazekas said. “All the positives that we said, we’re going to go on them, and we’re going to fix all the mistakes because there were plenty and we’re going to try to be a better team when we come out on Monday.”

Burrell’s defense finally made a stop after it caused a fumble late in the third with many Vikings starters resting.

Off the turnover, the Bucs offense marched down the field with big runs from sophomore running back Devin Beattie and a 1-yard run by senior Caden DiCaprio to end Mt. Pleasant’s hopes for a shutout.

The Bucs were held to 127 yards of offense.

“I think it’s just a case of having a really inexperienced, young team,” Burrell coach Shawn Liotta said. “We had a ton of injuries tonight, and we came into the game with a ton of injuries. We had a wide receiver playing guard today. Our kids hung in there and did the best they could.

“We played a lot of freshmen and sophomores tonight, so hopefully we learned from it and we continue to grow. Our time will come. We keep working hard and staying positive.”

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