MAXWELL – Collins-Maxwell needed about five minutes to make one thing perfectly clear Friday night: they weren't going to let anything get in the way of clinching the first winning season in school history.
Whether it was the offense, the defense or the special teams, the Spartans (6-4) were unstoppable against Melcher-Dallas (2-7), scoring three touchdowns in a 91-second span of the first quarter to bury the Saints early in what turned into a 66-14 rout.
“We came out firing; they knew they had to right away,” Collins-Maxwell coach Cory Crnkovich said as tears began to fill his eyes. “I know it sucks (that it's all over), but winning your last game, those guys over there earned it.”
Spartan senior quarterback Kadin Bennett threw for 299 yards and six touchdowns and ran for another, and senior receiver Brett Livesay hauled in nine catches for 206 yards and three scores.
Livesay had been in pursuit of the 8-Player season records for catches, yards and receiving touchdowns and came up short of all three Friday, but his big night helped the Spartans ensure they would finish the year with a winning record for the first time in three seasons since splitting from Baxter.
Bennett and Livesay were part of the first Spartan team that went 0-9 and scored a total of 20 points.
They had already scored 22 less than five minutes into Friday's finale.
“It's unbelievable,” Bennett said. “Like our coach always says, if you're willing to put in the work you're going to see results. That's what we did.”
The Spartan defense forced a punt to open the game and took over at their own 15, and the offense needed just five plays to move 65 yards. Bennett ended that drive when he found freshman Luke Huntrods in the left flat, and Huntrods outran the defense 29 yards for a score.
It wouldn't be long before the Spartans were in the end zone again. After forcing a three-and-out, junior Hunter Clair fielded the punt at his own 36 and ran nearly untouched into the end zone.
Another Saints three-and-out followed, and on the first play of the Spartans' next drive, Bennett found Livesay for a 29-yard touchdown. Junior running back Rylee Scott's two-point conversion made it 22-0.
That flurry stunned the Saints, who had no answers for the Spartans the entire night. The Collins-Maxwell offense wasn't done in that first quarter yet, either.
Livesay hauled in a 31-yard touchdown from Bennett on the next drive, making it 30-0 at the close of the first period. Bennett's 21-yard touchdown run and an 11-yard touchdown toss from Bennett to senior John Kasper in the second quarter increased the lead, though the Spartans ended the half at the Saints' 2-yard line, content to go into halftime leading 46-0.
By halftime, Bennett had already thrown for 186 yards and four touchdowns and run for 43 and a score, and Livesay had hauled in five balls for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
Livesay's initial goal for the season was 1,000 yards, but he'll end it with over 1,500.
“I spent a lot of time with that kid and that quarterback working on combo routes, watching Hudl, they both earned it,” Crnkovich said. “Both of them.”
Bennett threw touchdowns of 47 yards to Livesay and 27 yards to senior Simon McKinney in the third quarter. Though Melcher-Dallas scored late in the fourth quarter, recovered the onside kick and scored again, and then scored a safety on an errant shotgun snap, the Spartans did get one more possession late in the fourth after Livesay intercepted a pass and returned it deep in Saints territory.
McKinney ran in the final score with three seconds left, setting off a celebration.
The Spartans had two main goals this season: playing for a district title, and if they couldn't do that, win at least six games to guarantee their first winning season.
“It feels pretty good,” Livesay said. “We put a lot of work in in the offseason. We wanted to win the district, didn't get that, but we also wanted that winning record because we had a couple of shaky years before this. This year we (we put it all together).”
Melcher-Dallas 0 0 0 14-14
Collins-Maxwell 30 16 14 6-66
CM- Luke Huntrods 29 pass from Kadin Bennett (pass failed) 8:43
CM- Hunter Clair 44 punt return (Rylee Scott run), 7:56
CM- Brett Livesay 29 pass from Bennett (Scott run), 7:12
CM-Livesay 31 pass from Bennett (Mason Markely run), 0:58
CM-Bennett 21 run (Jace Huntrods run), 11:31
CM-John Kasper 11 pass from Bennett (Bennett run), 8:55
CM-Livesay 47 pass from Bennett (Jace Huntrods run), 8:57
CM-Simon McKinney 27 pass from Bennett (run failed), 1:54
MD-Noe Von Trzebiatowski 4 run (pass failed), 5:42
MD-Logan Godfrey 10 run (pass failed), 3:15
MD-Tackle in end zone, safety, 2:08
CM-McKinney 1 run (run failed), 0:03