Nick Brown may not look like the prototypical dual-threat quarterback.
But the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder ran for Mt. Pleasant’s final three touchdowns, two in a 24-point second quarter and one to ice the Tigers’ 32-21 Homecoming victory Friday night over Region 5-2A rival Loretto.
“I just want to do anything to help this team win,” the junior signalcaller said after gaining a team-high 88 yards on 15 carries while throwing for 160 yards and a score. “If that’s me being more physical, that’s what I want to do.”
Brown’s runs were the most consistent aspect of Mt. Pleasant’s ground game, as the Tigers’ four running backs combined for just 66 yards on 25 carries – a fact not lost on second-year coach Kit Hartsfield.
“We’ve got to find some answers. He’s been taking a lot of hits,” Hartsfield said regarding Brown, who has compiled 817 offensive yards with 12 TDs through the ninth-ranked Tigers’ 4-0 (2-0) start. “We’ve got to be more balanced, not get behind the chains so we’re not so one-dimensional.
“He’s developed physically in the weight room. He wants to be perceived as a hard-nosed player, even though he’s a quarterback. He’s really stepped up in the run game.”
Initially, Brown helped his offense’s surge in a more familiar manner – connecting with Demarkus Brown for a 39-yard scoring strike to tie the game early in the second quarter, after Loretto (2-3, 1-1) took a 7-0 lead midway through the opening period.
From there, though, offense became a little harder to come by for the visiting Mustangs, who managed just three first downs before halftime as they trailed 24-14 at the break.
“They had a little bit more speed at the point of attack,” Loretto coach Barry Daniel said after his team produced just 35 rushing yards on 27 carries. “They schemed us up pretty good, and we missed a few blocks.
“But that’s the fastest team we’ve seen.”
Once the Tiger defense clamped down on Loretto, the offensive unit put the finishing touches on a fourth straight win to open the season. Starting their final drive at the Mustang 45-yard line after a safety and a free kick, Mt. Pleasant took more than five minutes off the clock and scored on a Brown 29-yard scamper up the left sideline for an 11-point lead with two minutes remaining.
“The coaches were saying ‘go’, so that’s what I did,” Brown said. “I did what I had to do.”
Ranked ninth in the latest Associated Press Class 2A statewide poll, the Tigers are one of two unbeaten teams in region play as Richland defeated Cascade.
“It’s a big deal. Everybody’s good enough to win on any given night,” Hartsfield said regarding the league race. “We’re in as good a position as you can be in. We’ve played two good region teams, and we’ve had to battle to get two region wins.”
“It’s a big deal, but we’re focused on doing us, game by game, doing what we need to do,” senior defensive lineman Gavin Alderson said.
Mt. Pleasant played the final two quarters without Demarkus Brown. The Southeast Missouri State commit was on the sideline in street clothes and on crutches after sustaining an injury to his right knee late in the second period.
“A guy goes down, another guy has to fill a void and make a play,” Hartsfield said. “Trey Davis did a good job filling in on defense and Keevan Cooper did on offense.”
Mt. Pleasant 32, Loretto 21
L 7 7 7 0 – 21
M 0 24 0 8 – 32
L – Jack Welch 10 pass from Carter Daniel (6:26), Patton Simbeck kick
M – Demarkus Brown 39 pass from Nick Brown (10:52), Jackson Collier kick
M – Collier 28 field goal (5:35)
M – N. Brown 2 run (4:05), Collier kick
L – Jaden Stults 4 run (2:05), Simbeck kick
M – Brown 2 run (0:06), Collier kick
L – Clint Seymore 13 pass from Daniel (4:29), Simbeck kick
M – Safety; punt snap through end zone (7:11)
M – N. Brown 29 run (2:00), run failed
First downs 9 14
Rushes-yards 27-35 40-154
Passing yards 187 160
Comps-Atts-Ints 10-21-0 9-16-0
Penalties-yards 5-35 13-129
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-0
Loretto – Carter Daniel 4-3, Jaden Stults 12-23, Caden Porter 11-9
Mt. Pleasant – Nick Brown 15-88, Zavier Davidson 9-14, Austin Hicks 9-42, Keevan Cooper 4-20, Jakyri McClure 3-(-10)
Loretto – Carter Daniel 10-21-0, 187
Mt. Pleasant – Nick Brown 9-16-0, 160
Loretto – Clint Seymore 6-149, Jakiyah Englett 1-19, Jack Welch 2-16, Jackson Traglia 1-3
Mt. Pleasant – Keevan Cooper 2-59, Austin Hicks 2-17, Zavier Davidson 1-3, Darien Meza 2-39, Demarkus Brown 1-39, Skylar Witherspoon 1-3