By Caleb Curtis
In their final meetings of this regular season, the Aurora Houn’ Dawgs (4-4, 3-3 in the Big 8) will host the McDonald County Mustangs (5-3, 3-3 in the Big 8) for senior night. The Mustangs will head to Aurora on a two-game winning streak after edging past Monett (21-18) and blowing out East Newton (54-0). The Houn’ Dawgs are licking their wounds after a 34-13 beating at the hands of Cassville last week. Both teams will be fighting for every inch in this gridiron battle.
Aurora bested the Mustangs in last season’s contest by a score of 28-14 for just their second win of the season. The Dawgs have also claimed all three meetings against the Mustangs since they began meeting annually in 2014. This year, the Houn’ Dawgs have already doubled their win total from last season, and they have shown that they are much improved on both sides of the ball. The Aurora offense has already put up 211 points this season, 93 more than the 118 points they had put up to this point last season. Their defense has also improved this season, as they have only given up 195 points on the year. That’s quite an improvement compared to the 284 points they gave up through 8 games last season.
McDonald County comes into this seeking revenge after Aurora spoiled senior night for the Mustangs. The Mustangs have yet to top the Dawgs in their three meetings so far, but it wouldn’t be much of a shock to see yet another long-lasting losing streak come to an end. The Mustangs ended a losing streak lasting 15 years against Cassville earlier this season; they also ended a 18-year losing streak with a 21-18 win over Monett on September 30th. McDonald County has shown that, like Aurora, they have turned it around on both sides of the ball this season. The Mustangs have produced 171 points this season, which is 69 more points than the 102 they produced through eight games last season. The defense has given up 179 points this season, a number that is only a mere dent in the 320 points they had given up last year through eight games. The defense has also produced its first shutout for McDonald County since September 15, 2004, a game that resulted in a 7-0 victory for the Mustangs over the Nevada Tigers.
Points Per Game: McDonald County: 21.4 vs Aurora: 26.4
Points Allowed Per Game: McDonald County: 22.38 vs Aurora: 24.38
State Rank*: McDonald County: 103 vs Aurora: 82
*According to MaxPreps.com
The Mustangs and Houn’ Dawgs have shared six common opponents: Seneca, Cassville, Mount Vernon, Lamar, Monett, and East Newton
Mac County: vs Seneca(L 13-41) vs Cassville(W 21-14) vs Mt. Vernon(L 21-43) vs Lamar(L 8-50) vs Monett(W 21-18) vs East Newton(W 54-0)
Aurora: vs Seneca(L 14-15) vs Cassville(L 13-34) vs Mt. Vernon(W 33-14) vs Lamar(L 6-30) vs Monett(W 46-10) vs East Newton(W 52-25)
Aurora has the pretty clear edge in their common meeting against Seneca. Then the Mustangs have the clear edge from what we’ve see in their game against Cassville. The momentum then flips again as Aurora pounded a Mount Vernon squad that spoiled the McDonald County homecoming. Both teams got drubbed pretty well by the Lamar Tigers, but Aurora appears to have the slight edge in the matchup. Aurora then also dismantled a Monett team that took McDonald County to the edge a few weeks ago. However, Aurora gave up 25 points to East Newton, a team that McDonald County shutout last week. Those 25 points that Aurora gave up to the Patriots are 65% of the points they’ve scored all season (38 points this year). From what is seen in the common opponents, the Aurora defense looks great at times, but rather lackluster at other times. The McDonald County offense is very consistent at scoring about 21 points each week.
The Bottom Line
The up and down play of the Aurora defense matched up against the consistent play by the McDonald County offense is a very intriguing matchup, and I think this game is really a tossup. The McDonald County defense going against the Aurora offense should also be a pretty even matchup, as the Dawgs offense averages 26.4 points a game and the Mustangs defense is holding opponents to 22.38 a game. If the Mustangs offense can get over their consistent 21 point games, then they should come out on top and spoil Aurora’s senior night. Depending on which Aurora defense shows up, this game is either going to be a night a celebration, or a night of much disappointment.
Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM in Aurora.