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WATCH | Mills, Eagles avenge ‘22 loss with rout of Ramblers

by James Leigh | September 16, 2023 at 5:10 a.m.
Cutter Morning Star's Peyton Mills looks for a pass against Rose Bud Friday at Eagle Stadium. - Photo by Krishnan Collins of The Sentinel-Record

Homecoming was not a factor for Cutter Morning Star as the Eagles avenged last year's loss to Rose Bud with a 42-8 rout of the Ramblers at Eagle Stadium Friday night.

The Eagles (2-1) held a 10-point lead at halftime last year in Rose Bud before the Ramblers (0-3) came back to take a 64-42 win, but that was something that junior quarterback Peyton Mills refused to repeat.

"Really it was just kind of get a payback from last year because we had a close one against them last year, but my main focus is just kind of keep the season going strong," Mills said of his motivation in the win. "We're 2-1 now, so that's nice, too."

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While coaches tend to hate homecoming because of the ready distractions of the day -- as well as the homecoming court on the sideline -- Eagles head coach Nick Finley said that he felt his team was focused and ready for the game.

"Homecoming day makes a long day for every coach in the nation," he said. "It's kind of one of those things where you got to kind of let it play out, talk to them throughout the day when you see them, 'Hey, we're not getting overly pumped and wasting all our energy just cheering and everything else.' ... When 3 o'clock hit and I got them away from the homecoming festivities, the parade, the pep rally, the ceremony, they were locked in.

"So I'm really proud of our kids for handling the day. It took a lot of prep work during the week, just talking to them, but I'm really proud with how they handled the night."

Mills went 13-for-20 passing for 236 yards and five touchdowns, continuing to press the accelerator throughout the game after taking a 34-0 lead into halftime.

"We had them come back on us last year, 22-6, so we (didn't want) to see something like that again," he said. "So we'd like to keep pushing. We want to put it away, for sure."

Despite a handful of instances of the ball slipping through the fingers of his receivers on almost guaranteed touchdowns, Mills continued to put the ball in the air, even hitting a pair of deep touchdown passes.

"It was really lined up," he said of his 46- and 47-yard touchdown passes in the second quarter. "Usually I'm kind of a hit check downs if they're open, but they were there this game. A lot of open ones, for sure."

While Mills dominated the offense, Finley had nothing but high praise for his defense.

"Going into the season and listening to everybody talk about our defense from last year -- which it's a different crew," he said. "It's a different group. It's a different set of kids. It's a different mentality. Coach (Steven) Love is doing a great job with our defense, but it's all just pitching in and getting it done. We spend a lot of time on getting it done, but the big thing here is all these days of working in summer and everything else. Execution was key today."

Finley also praised his quarterback, who in addition to the aerial game carried the ball six times for 21 yards.

"I think he was more focused on this game than he was the prior two just because he's had this one circled for a long time," he said, noting Mills leads the team by example during practice and during games. "We went there last year, and they came back and beat us. And it's kind of one of those things that gets a little payback for him. So I'm thrilled for him, his success and what his future is gonna look like, but we had a bunch of guys step up and make plays."

Mills had four deep balls with Brody Speers catching a 46-yard touchdown and Tavin York snagging the 47-yarder, but he also had a 31-yard pass to Asher Livingston and a 30-yard bomb to Michael Sexson.

"It's a great win, especially to start us off in conference next week," Mills said of the team's start to the season. "So I'm feeling pretty good about it."

Mills opened the scoring early in the first quarter with a 16-yard pass to Livingston with 3:25 off the clock, and a 12-yard completion to Isaiah Mahone made it 14-0 after he reeled in the conversion pass with 2:19 left in the quarter. The junior then hit touchdown passes of 13 yards to Mahone, 46 yards to Speers and 47 yards to York for the 34-0 halftime lead.

It took just 45 seconds to secure enough points to keep the clock rolling in the second half as Jock Simpson found a hole for a 21-yard touchdown run before breaking into the end zone again for the 42-0 lead. The Ramblers scored on a 36-yard pass with 4:15 left in the game to avoid their first scoreless game.

Print Headline: Mills, Eagles avenge ‘22 loss with rout of Ramblers


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