By D.J. Williams
For the Gazette-Mail
and the Daily News
NITRO – During his team’s bye week, Mingo Central football coach Yogi Kinder wanted to work on his team’s passing game.
On Friday, that passing game was on display and didn’t disappoint.
On the first play of the game, junior quarterback Jeremy Dillon connected with receiver Dalton Sheppard on a 52-yard reception, where Sheppard got behind a Nitro defender. Two plays later, Dillon hooked up with freshman Drew Hatfield for a 17-yard touchdown.
It was just the beginning of a career night for Dillon and a long night for Nitro defenders.
Dillon connected on 17 of 26 passes for 468 yards and seven touchdowns and added a rushing touchdown as visiting Mingo Central cruised to a 60-6 victory over host Nitro on Friday night.
“We came into the game knowing that we were going to throw the ball,” Dillon said. “We were just able to have success with it. I was able to get in a rhythm and get going.”
Dillon did not throw consecutive incompletions until the final possession of the first half. After those two incompletions, Dillon connected with Tyler Grimmett for a 50-yard touchdown pass as the time expired in the half.
At the half, Dillon was 10 of 15 with 345 yards and five touchdowns.
“He [Dillon] isn’t going to do anything but get better for us,” Kinder said. “We didn’t have him until the first day of August. He’s just a player.”
Hatfield was the recipient on two more touchdown receptions of 37 and 17 yards, while Grimmett also caught a 70-yard touchdown and returned an interception 95 yards for a score.
Hatfield, who also relieved Dillon at quarterback, finished with six receptions for 108 yards and three touchdowns, while Grimmett finished with two receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns for the Miners (4-0).
“It makes it a lot easier to have guys like them [Hatfield and Grimmett],” Dillon said. “I can just throw it up and they will go get it. I don’t overthrow them much.”
“Both of those guys [Dillon and Hatfield] have skills,” Kinder added. “They both are also very good basketball players. I guess they developed them skills a long time ago. Their dads evidently got in the yards and passed with them. They aren’t in the house playing video games. They are always somewhere playing ball or working out.”
Hatfield also had a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown called back due to a holding penalty, where he fielded the punt at the Nitro 39 and ran backwards approximately 10 yards before cutting up the right sideline then crossing field to score.
The Miners led 39-0 at halftime, while also outgaining Nitro (1-4) 372-84 in total offense. For the game, the Miners accumulated 543 yards of total offense to Nitro’s 160.
The Wildcats squandered some opportunities to put points on the board in the first half when they went four-and-out from the Miner 6 and also failed to convert three Miner fumbles — two recovered by Behren Franks and one by Logan Morris — into points.
The Wildcats finally scored on a 5-yard run by freshman Zachary Bruer in the fourth quarter after the Miners added scores on a Joe Hunt 20-yard pass from Dillon, a Dillon 23-yard run and a Lee Chafin 4-yard pass from Dillon, respectively.
Bruer led the Wildcats with 47 rushing yards on nine carries and a touchdown.
Score by quarters:
Mingo: 20 19 21 0 -60
Nitro: 0 0 0 6 – 6