GILLETTE SETS SCORING RECORD, BEATS RAPID CITY, CLINCHES HOME PLAYOFF GAME
The Gillette Mustangs put up 77 points against Rapid City Marshals on Saturday in Gillette.
Quarterback Aaron Aiken started for the Mustangs after being signed earlier in the week. In his first game with the team, the Mustangs put up a season-high in points which also set a Champions Indoor Football record since the league's new extra-point rule before the start of the season.
The only drive the offense didn't score was the first one. On the first play, the Marshals sacked Aiken in the end zone for a safety.
Both teams offensively looked to establish the run and both quarterbacks were key components to the run. In the first quarter, both teams had long drives that were set up by the run game. The Mustangs' defense struggled to stop the Marshals offense in the first half, but by the second quarter the offense led by Aiken was clicking.
After a six-point first quarter, the Mustangs scored 33 in the second quarter. The team scored four touchdowns, two passing and two rushing. Gillette converted on all of its extra-point opportunities, including a three-point try.
The second half began with a 19-point Gillette lead. Rapid City scored on its opening drive to cut into the Mustangs deficit and make it a 39-28 game. A flip switched after that drive for Gillette and the defense didn't allow another score.
Meanwhile, Aiken and the offense scored every time they touched the ball. The Mustangs' rushing attack was too much for Rapid City while the defense did what it does best — create big plays and turnovers. Garrett Pemelton got a sack and both Isaiah McFarland and Sean Harper Jr. intercepted the ball as Rapid City turned to the pass game to catch up to the Mustangs.
Aiken and Jaylen Jefferson spearheaded the Mustangs' offense on the ground. Aiken, who is listed as 6-foot 5-inches and 240 pounds, played physical and used his size to break tackles.
"I got some things personally I could tighten up at, but I'm grateful to be here," Aiken said after the game. "When I'm out there, I take this as war. As a leader, sometimes you need to set the tone with physicality. I don't do it to be showy, but I want my guys to know this is what I'm willing to do, to put my body on the line."
Offensive coordinator Reggie Gray said that Aiken's ability to pick up the offense in under a week impressed him. Gray said there is still a lot for Aiken to learn of the offense.
"He went out there and showed that he's a veteran of this game — I'm happy we have him," Gray said of his new quarterback. "This offense still has some ways to go. Obviously, he's new so I kind of babied him a little bit, but he was able to step up to the plate. This offense can step up to a lot of heights and he can be a great fit."
The Mustangs will travel to Billings to face the Outlaws next Saturday.