A strong start to each half was all Mountain Crest’s football team needed to bounce back from its first Region 11 setback of the season.

The Mustangs scored on a fumble recovery in the end zone 96 seconds into the game, and they capped off a lengthy drive with a touchdown midway through the third quarter en route to a 16-6 victory over Bear River on Friday night in Garland.

With the win, Mountain Crest (3-5, 3-1 region) moved into sole possession of second place in the region standings.

The Mustangs played lights out defensively as they limited the Bears to 29 yards of total offense in opening half. Mountain Crest kept the hosts off the scoreboard until Ren Fonnesbeck’s electrifying 59-yard scamper with 8:35 remaining in the final quarter.

The Bears (3-5, 2-2) got off to a rough start as they sailed a snap over the head of their punter on their opening possession, and it was scooped up by MC’s Emilio Veater for a TD. Veater played well the entire game as he had a pair of sacks.

Mountain Crest marched inside the Bear River 25-yard line three times in the first half, but was limited to a 33-yard field goal by Brandon Arnell. The Mustangs took a 9-0 lead into the locker room.

The visitors quickly seized momentum in the third quarter when Hunter Schroeder rattled off a 50-plus-yard run. Later in the drive, Schroeder powered his way into the end zone from 1 yard out. The senior wore No. 7 in honor of teammate Camden Olsen, a fellow 2018 all-first all-region performer who suffered a season-ending knee injury a couple of weeks ago.

Arnell intercepted a Bear River pass in the second half to help preserve Mountain Crest’s two-score advantage.

PIRATES 32, DRAGONS 7

West Side (5-1, 2-0 district) continues to play suffocating defense, and Malad (3-3, 1-1) was the latest victim. The Pirates fell behind 7-0 in the first quarter, but bounced back by scoring 32 unanswered points en route to their latest win — this time on the road.

“It was actually good for them to, I think, be behind and to maybe have a little bit of a wake-up call,” WS head coach Tyson Moser said. “Malad went right down the field and took it to them, so I think that kind of woke them up a little bit, and I’m glad that they responded the way they did.”

The Pirates have held their last five opponents to a combined 22 points. West Side’s defense recovered three fumbles and picked off a trio of passes. Taze Stegelmeier, Ryan Beckstead and Jaxon Moser had one INT apiece for West Side, and Moser recovered a fumble and rushed for 82 yards and two TDs.

“We’ve been struggling to create turnovers,” coach Moser said. “That’s been a big problem for us and so getting the six tonight was big. The best part was the kids were, especially on the interceptions, the kids were in the spot to get the interceptions because they listened to their coaches and they did what they were told to do.”

West Side also put together a solid offensive performance. The visitors rushed for 310 yards on 52 attempts, and Beckstead completed 7 of 11 passes for 90 yards and a pair of TDs. Josh Reeder (32 yards) and Stegelmeier (23) hauled in TD passes from Beckstead.

Jaxon Moser scored on a pair of short runs, and Beckstead capped off another strong rushing attack with a 21-yard jaunt to paydirt in the third quarter. Cage Brokens gained a game-high 113 yards on 13 carries.

The Pirates had two touchdowns negated by penalties, but didn’t turn the ball over.

Stegelemeier continues to rack up a lot of tackles and he paced the Pirates with 12 in the game. Ethan Mott chipped in with five tackles, two sacks and one fumble recovery.

SPARTANS 27, INDIANS 25

Preston rallied with a pair of touchdowns in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, but host Minico blocked an extra point and sacked Preston quarterback Ty Hyde on a two-point conversion attempt that would have pulled the visitors even. The Spartans (5-1, 2-0) recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt and were able to run out the clock en route to their fifth consecutive victory.

Meanwhile, Preston’s four-game winning streak came to an end. The Indians (4-1, 1-1) dominated the Spartans for much of the first half, but turned the ball over inside Minico’s 25-yard line four times — three on fumbles and once on downs.

“I was pleased with how (my guys) battled the whole game, we just had some miscues,” PHS head coach Eric Thorson said. “I mean, hats off to (Minico). It’s a quality program. Minico is a great program, but I didn’t feel like we got outplayed. I didn’t feel like we were up against a team that was out of our league. We had some miscues and that just cost us, and it always does in the big games.”

The Spartans busted out three runs of 54 or more yards in the final 5:40 of the second quarter — one was a 91-yarder by Tazyn Twiss right after a Preston fumble — and scored three quick TDs to take a 21-6 lead.

The Indians regained momentum with 13 seconds remaining in the second quarter when Andrew Iverson returned a kickoff 85 yards to the house. It was one of three touchdowns by Iverson on the evening. The senior had TD runs of 5 yards in the first quarter and 33 yards in the fourth. No. 30’s third foray into the end zone pulled Preston to within 27-25 with 1:10 remaining in the contest.

Preston’s other fourth-quarter TD was a 5-yard pass from Hyde to Garrett Ward, who absolutely lit up a Minico running back in the first quarter, causing a fumble. Hyde completed timely passes to Isaiah Smith and Gordon Knapp during his team’s second-to-last scoring drive.

The Indians received some bad news late in the second quarter when star all-purpose player Scott Dunn broke his arm after deftly chasing down Minico’s Rylan Chandler on a 65-or-so-yard scamper. Dunn was at least seven yards behind Chandler, but managed to track him down and make a diving, TD-saving tackle at the Preston 3-yard line.

jturner@hjnews.com Twitter: hjtrebek

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jturner@hjnews.com or 435-792-7237.