MOON TWP — Scott Heinauer assured the Mars football team there was little need to panic about what happened at Tiger Stadium Friday night.
“We'll be fine,” Heinauer said.
The Planets' long-time coach knows Northern Conference play is still two weeks away. Conceding 36 unanswered points to drop a non-section contest 36-14 to Moon wasn't ideal.
But it isn't a result from which Mars (1-1) can't recover.
“We will be OK. We were OK at halftime,” Heinauer said. “We were fine. We made mistakes and you can't make those mistakes. We let the game slip away.”
The Planets turned the ball over four times. Three of those turnovers resulted in Moon touchdowns, including an 85-yard interception return by Dawson Snyder in the third quarter.
Mars linebacker/running back Teddy Ruffner said the Planets learned they need to sustain their intensity throughout the game.
“You can't get comfortable,” said Ruffner, who rushed for 145 yards on 22 carries. “Even if we are up 14-0, we have to keep fighting and you can't ever stop. I think tonight we gave up a tiny bit and you saw what happened.”
The Planets were ahead 14-0 after Ruffner scored his second touchdown on a 2-yard run with 5:07 remaining in the first half.
Before halftime was when the trouble started. Logan Young broke through and blocked a punt through the back of the end zone with 1:03 left before intermission.
“We blocked eight last year,” Moon coach Ryan Linn said. “It changed the field position because we got the ball inside the 50, made a couple plays and went down and scored.”
The Tigers scored five plays after the free kick when Dante Clay found Snyder, who finished with 137 receiving yards, for an 8-yard touchdown pass, making the score 14-8 at halftime.
“When we have an opportunity to stop them, we have to take it,” Ruffner said. “Once we blocked that punt, we need to come back and get a stop and we didn't.”
Clay passed for 176 yards, also ran for 64 and a score.
Most of Clay's damage was done out of the shotgun with five wide receivers.
“When we go empty, we can kind of dictate what they do a little bit,” Linn said. “It's hard to bring pressure. We thought our skill was a little better and it put more of our skill on the field.”
Offensively, the Planets struggled to find a rhythm after the first half. Mars was 6-of-13 in the passing game for 67 yards with two interceptions. The Planets rushed for 151 yards.
Moon scored on its opening drive after the half on a 2-yard run by Jamal Littlejohn to go up by eight. Snyder's interception happened two possessions later.
On Mars' ensuing possession following the pick-six, the Planets would lose the ball on a fumble. Moon would turn that into another touchdown by Littlejohn three plays later.
“We can't give them opportunities,” Heinauer said. “That's what happens.”
The Planets host Greensburg Salem Friday.
Mars 7 7 0 0 — 14
Moon 0 8 14 14 — 36
MA — Teddy Ruffner 4 run (Blake Edwards kick), :43.4
MA — Ruffner 2 run (Edwards kick), 5:07
MO — Logan Young blocks punt out of endzone for safety, 1:03
MO — Dawson Snyder 8 pass from Dante Clay (kick failed), :15
MO — Jamal Littlejohn 2 run (Jacob Zimmerman kick), 9:00
MO —Snyder 84 interception return (Zimmerman kick), 2:12
MO — Littlejohn 3 run (Zimmerman kick), 8:34
MO — Clay 24 run (Zimmerman kick), 8:10
Rushing:Mars, Teddy Ruffner 22-145, Nick Spotti 10-49, Joe DeLuca 3-3, Drew Schlegel 3-(-14). Moon, Jamal Littlejohn 10-46, Dante Clay 14-64, Dylan Sleva 4-22, Mekhi Humphries 2-8, Jordan Young 1-9).
Passing:Mars, Drew Schlegel 5-8-62-1, Quinn Fuller 1-5-5-1. Moon, Dante Clay 11-18-176-0, Tyler McGowan 0-1-0-0.
Receiving:Mars, Mitchell Wright 2-45, Josh Grell 1-9, Joe DeLuca 3-8, Teddy Ruffner 1-5. Moon, Dawson Snyder 7-137, Jeremiah Dean 2-30, Brady Panucci 1-9, Jamal Littlejohn 1-0.