The Munster Mustangs avoided their second straight loss at home and third straight loss overall by defeating the Griffith Panthers 19-14 on Friday night. For Mustangs quarterback Mark Strbjak, this was a must win game.
“We didn’t want to lose another one…that would have been the nail in the coffin,” Strbjak said. “The big thing is today we came out with a little swagger, a chip on our shoulder. I had complete faith that we would win…you have to have that mindset.”
Strbjak was 5/9 and passed for 162 yards with two touchdowns. His target of choice was wide receiver Matt Collison, who caught both touchdown passes. Collison was happy to snap Munster’s two game losing streak.
“It was a big game,” said Collison. “It was a big conference game to be able to get back in the conference championship race.”
“It’s been something we’ve been working on all year,” said Mustangs head coach Leroy Marsh. “Matt had a particularly great game, a breakout game for him. He’s got great speed and he’s getting more confidence every week. Mark had a great game tonight with controlling the offense, and not letting us get off kilter.”
The goal line defense for the Mustangs was stellar for the second week in a row. As the first half was winding down, quarterback Calvin Bonewits and the rest of the Griffith offense was stopped cold, despite getting a first down from a penalty at the three yard line.
“That was a huge confidence builder,” said Marsh. “The defense played really well, probably the best we’ve played all season long. For part of the season we’ve been thinking too much, and what happens is we get paralyzed and don’t play very well. So we went back to something really simple…our defensive coordinator did a great job.”
“We were just feeding off of our defense,” said Strbjak. “The defense was giving it to us and we didn’t want to let them down.”
Bonewits was 6/11 with 44 yards passing and threw two interceptions. He also led the Panthers in rushing with 159 yards on 20 carries, and ran in the two Griffith touchdowns. Marsh had good things to say about the Panthers’ quarterback.
“He’s a real competitor,” said Marsh. “If I was voting for class 3A all-state, he’d be on my ballot.”
Both teams sport a 3-3 record after Munster’s victory. Munster will host Hobart next week while Griffith will host Highland.