ALBANY -- With eight seconds to go in the second quarter Friday night of Deerfield's GISA Class AAA state playoff opener against Mount Vernon, kicker Trey Puckett booted a 20-yard field goal to put the Knights ahead by a mile, 31-6, and leaving three seconds on the clock.
The Mustangs, meanwhile, didn't stick around, heading to the locker room slightly early.
It was only halftime, but they had clearly seen enough.
"It was a good way to start (the playoffs)," DWS coach Allen Lowe said of the game, which ended in a 44-12 Knights win as Tony Zenon rushed for 135 yards on eight carries, scoring two touchdowns on the ground, one receiving and even passed for one out of the wildcat formation to WR Michael Leslie. "We made some mistakes, did some things we'll have to correct next week, but altogether, it was a solid win."
Next up for the Knights (10-2) is a rematch with one of the two teams to beat the defending Class AAA state champs all season: First Presbyterian Day, which rolled Trinity Christian in its opener Friday, 41-0.
As Lowe stood at midfield and addressed his team after the win, he was clear in his message about what the next week should mean to anyone with a stake in the football program.
"When we walked off this field against FPD earlier this year, no one here was happy and everyone wanted the chance to make what happened right," Lowe said of the 24-21 loss the Vikings dealt DWS in Macon. "Well now we've got that chance. Let's make the most of it."
One Knight who won't be making the most of it is star receiver Reggie Brown, who was ejected from the game for a tussle he got into at the end of DWS' first drive with Mount Vernon defensive back Isiah Gilbert, who was also ejected. GISA rules state that a player ejected from a game must sit out the following game, meaning Deerfield will be without its biggest passing threat.
"Yeah, I guess he won't play," Lowe shrugged. "I didn't really see what happened, but the (refs) threw him out, so I guess he's out (next week)."
Leslie, meanwhile, filled in nicely as a target for both Zenon and backup QB Dallas Margeson, who split time with fellow back Kevin Cheshire -- both of whom were filling in for injured starter Banks Kinslow. Kinslow still is questionable for next week.
Zenon, like the rest of the team, hopes their starting signal caller can return next week for such a crucial game, but also knows that if the Knights continue to run the wildcat with effectiveness like they did Friday, they should be OK.
"We use it when we can, and it seemed to work pretty good," said Zenon, who added that his pass to Leslie was only his second TD toss of his career. "I can get back there and throw if I need to. Maybe I'll need to some more. We'll see."
Zenon's scored on the Knights' second drive of the game, going almost untouched from 74 yards out, then busted off a 40-yard score on the next drive to put DWS ahead, 14-0. Quinton Adkins then scored a TD of his own from 40 yards out. After a Mount Vernon score in between in the second quarter by Kalle Higdoim from three yards out -- set up by a muffed punt by Zenon -- Margeson then found Zenon from 49 yards out in the end zone to put the Knights comfortably ahead, 28-6, before Puckett's halftime kick. Pucket was perfect on extra points on the night, until the final TD by Gaughf Ivey when he missed. Margeson also tossed a 25-yard TD pass to Justin Webb for his second score in relief of Kinslow.
After the game, Zenon and Co. took part in a somewhat muted celebration.
That's because he knows there's work left to be done -- and it starts with getting revenge on FPD next week.
"Do I have a message for FPD? No ... not really," said Zenon, who then paused and reconsidered his statement. "I mean, other than we're coming -- and they better be ready."