OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Highlighted by 151 yards rushing by freshman Kiandre Burrell and two interceptions by senior Billy Lewis, the Stevenson football team scored 13 unanswered points to remain unbeaten on the year with a 13-7 Middle Atlantic Conference victory over King's (Pa.) Saturday afternoon at Mustang Stadium.
The Mustangs (5-0, 4-0 MAC) have won eight-straight games dating back to last season and six-consecutive at home. It is the first time in program history Stevenson has started with five-straight wins after starting 4-0 a season ago.
The defense forced four turnovers in the game for the third time this season, totaling three interceptions and a forced fumble. The Mustangs have recorded 20 takeaways this season and extended their streak to 27 games with at least one forced turnover.
King's (1-4, 1-3 MAC) started its first two drives in Stevenson territory but gained just 18 combined yards and ended its second drive with a 33-yard missed field goal. After the miss, the Mustangs went 45 yards on six plays but sophomore Jeff Farrah was picked off at the 22-yard line as Justin Burke cut off the pass intended for junior Cortez Taylor.
Following Farrah's fourth pick of the year, the defense forced a three-and-out marking the third time the defense has forced a punt following an interception. Opponents have totaled just 14 points off Mustang turnovers this season compared to 50 for Stevenson.
It was the second-straight game Stevenson has kept its opponent out of the end zone in the opening quarter but it was also the first time in eight games that the Mustangs have failed to score in the opening 15 minutes.
The Monarchs took the lead early in the second quarter after an 11-play, 61-yard drive was capped by a four-yard run by quarterback Zach Whitehead. It was just the second time in five games Stevenson has failed to score first.
The Mustangs responded with a 13-play, 63-yard drive in which they converted on three third-down attempts but junior Tim Sternfeld missed a 28-yard field goal wide left. It was Sternfeld's first miss of the year after entering the game a perfect 4-for-4.
The defense had an answer once again as sophomore Austin Tennessee recorded his third interception of the season. The pick set up a 45-yard field goal attempt for Sternfeld who converted on a career-long. His previous career-long was 41 yards at Albright last season.
After the Monarch's third three-and-out of the opening half, Stevenson put together a late drive, which included converting on a 4th-and-1, but Farrah took an eight-yard sack and just overthrew junior Seth Jordan in the end zone on the next play forcing the Mustangs to punt.
On the team's first possessions of the opening half, there were six penalties and two punts as the team's combined for 26 yards.
In Stevenson territory, Whitehead threw his second interception of the day after receiving pressure from junior Austin Meyers. Classmate Cory Pietrzyk tipped the pass in the air before Lewis caught it and returned it 16 yards.
The pick set up Sternfeld's second field goal of the day after a 13-play, 65-yard drive that took 6:52 off the clock.
On the very next Mustang possession, the team went 62 yards in 1:07 for their lone touchdown of the day as Farrah found sophomore Devin Salisbury on a 47-yard catch and run to give Stevenson its first lead of the game. The touchdown pass by Farrah is his 11th this season after he totaled 10 a season ago.
The Mustangs defense allowed just 13 yards on the final three drives by King's, with the final two drives ending with a forced fumble by senior Brady Kempa, which was recovered by senior Chris Coffie, and the second interception of the day for Lewis. Lewis has totaled four interceptions this season and is the program leader with 12.
The Monarchs totaled just 171 yards marking the eighth-straight game that Stevenson has kept its opponents under 300 total yards. This season, the Mustangs are allowing just 248.4 yards per game.
Kempa added to his team lead with a game-high 12 total tackles and now has 49 on the season.
Stevenson entered the game tied with the nations lead with 19 sacks and nearly saw its nine-game streak with at least one sack snapped. But Coffie dropped Whitehead for a four-yard loss on the Monarchs final drive of the game.
The Mustangs will look to continue its record-setting start next Saturday, October 10 when they travel to Doylestown, Pennsylvania to face Delaware Valley. Kickoff is at 12:00 p.m.