SPLENDORA — Madisonville took down Hardin-Jefferson 42-20 in Splendora on Thursday and are set to take on the Lorena Leopards in the Area playoff.
The Mustangs beat the Leopards 39-36 on Sept. 29 in Madisonville.
“In the playoffs, no win in easy regardless of how many times you have played them,” said Madisonville head coach Rusty Nail on the rematch.
The Mustangs started their first playoff game the same way they started most of their regular season games. They built an early lead with a superb ground attack and an effective defensive unit. Madisonville led HJ 21-0 before the end of the first quarter.
Four Mustang rushers and one receiver found the end zone on Thursday. Cornelius Merchant led the offense with 201 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Ben Philips, Uriel Willis and Aaron Nellums added scores on the ground. Kendell Moffett took a Philips pass 58 yards for a touchdown.
In the first matchup against Lorena, Merchant scored three touchdowns and Nellums scored two. All told, Madisonville scored six rushing touchdowns in that win and ran for a staggering 567 rushing yards with three ball carriers rushing for 80 or more.
For the Leopards on Sept 29, junior A.J. Bell led the way with 203 all-purpose yards and two rushing touchdowns. The offensive attack was slow in the first half, which allowed the Mustangs to jump out to an early lead. However, Lorena scored 29 points in the final 24 minutes to make the game very interesting. Sophomore quarterback Bradley Lina completed 13 passes for just over 200 yards and a touchdown.
The Mustangs will have their hands full in this rematch against a very balanced offensive attack.
“Defensively, we have to align correctly and read our keys and just play discipline football,” said Nail. “They have an enormous amount of offense and a balanced attack. They are very well-coached and play extremely hard.”
It will be a different Lorena team this time around. The Leopards have win five straight games, including a 42-25 victory over Caldwell on Friday.
“Lorena is now a playoff team and a contender,” said Nail of the Leopards. “They have continued to I'm prove throughout the season just as we have and are rolling with three in a row to qualify for and advance in the playoffs.”
The Area playoff rematch between Madisonville and Lorena will kick off at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Merrill Green Stadium in Bryan. The victor will advance to Regionals to face the winner of West Orange-Stark and Mexia.