The McMain Mustangs made a late defensive stand to defeat the Lusher Lions on the road 20-13 Thursday night. McMain improved to 5-2 on the season while Lusher fell to 4-3.

Darnell Williams threw three touchdown passes and the Mustangs defense forced four turnovers to overcome nearly 180 rushing yards by Joshua Barney.

Neither team scored in the first period. Lusher’s first was derailed by a series of penalties. McMain managed to get inside the Lions’ 20 twice, but turned it over on downs both times.

Lusher broke free after its second stop. Barney ran for 75 yards on the Lions’ drive, capping it with a 33-yard touchdown run to take a 7-0 lead late in the second period. The drive gave Barney 104 yards in the first half.

The Mustangs struck back with a pair of consecutive long pass plays. Darnell Williams utilized the pump fake and hit Jamairyn Wallace for a 27-yard pass on third down. Williams then threw a 29-yard touchdown strike to James Howard, also on a pump fake. McMain still trailed 7-6 at halftime after missing the two-point attempt.

The first half was close to even. McMain held a slight advantage in total offense at 172-162.

A botched punt attempt by Lusher set McMain up at the Lions 21 early in the third. Wallace caught a screen pass and ran 20 yards for the go-ahead score. McMain led 14-7 after a successful conversion.

Eli Poche connected with Louis Landum for a 32-yard touchdown pass on third-and-12 to respond. The extra point was blocked and the Mustangs maintained a one-point lead going into the fourth.

McMain had a chance to extend its lead near the end of the third after another punting miscue by the Lions set them up at the Lusher 9. But Lusher’s defense held again, with an assist from an 18-yard intentional grounding penalty.

With less than eight minutes remaining in the game, Wallace caught a pass from Williams and took it for a 31-yard score, breaking several tackles along the way for a 20-13 lead.

McMain tried to run out the clock after getting the ball with under five minutes to play, but the Lusher defense forced a fumble from Nick Mccaskill, and took over at the Mustangs 44 with 3:44 left. On the ensuing play, Simone Thomas caught a swing pass and took it to the McMain 18, but fumbled the ball, and the Mustangs got it right back.

McMain went for it on fourth-and-1 from its own 28, but Williams was stopped short, giving the Lions new life with 1:32 to go. The McMain defense intercepted Poche on fourth down to seal the victory.

McMain next faces St. Charles Catholic October 24th at Pan-American Stadium. Lusher plays Curtis October 24th at Bertolino Playground.