Ball control and defense.
They were two key elements the Laurel High football team used last night to score a win.
The Spartans rushed for 241 total yards and made key stops on defense to claim a 21-0 season-opening home win over Mohawk.
"I thought we ran the ball great," Laurel coach Brian Cooper said. "We weren't consistent enough to sustain the drives that we needed to. It will come.
"This was a perfect game for us to be in. We see where we need to work and we can continue to build upon that. I thought we answered the call and we played a good football game. Was it mistake free? Absolutely not. But we were playing aggressive."
The Spartans picked up where they left off last year. Laurel finished the 2018 campaign on a four-game winning streak.
"It's not last year anymore. It's time to move forward," Cooper said.
The Warriors, who reached the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals last year, turned the ball over twice and managed just 116 total yards.
Laurel took the opening kickoff and marched 74 yards in 11 plays. Daniel Blank capped the drive with a five-yard scoring run and Zachary Maine booted the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 6:09 to go.
"I was kind of glad they won the toss and deferred because I wanted the ball," Cooper said. "I wanted to put our guys to the test early and see what kind of a game it was going to be. I thought that first drive was great."
But the Warriors turned away the Spartans on the next two drives in Mohawk territory. The first of those two drives got as deep as the Warriors' 16 before turning it over on downs on the 30. The second went as deep as the Mohawk 33 before ending on the visitors' 38.
"It's just the second and third drive when you have a short field to work with we have to be able to put the ball in the end zone," Cooper said. "Those are the kind of things we have to build upon. We have to get rid of a couple of mistakes here and there and get better."
Luke McCoy put Laurel up 14-0 on a 3-yard run with 4:05 to go in the first half. The score held until midway through the final frame.
McCoy put the game away on a 22-yard scoring scamper with 5:03 remaining in the fourth quarter. He finished with a game-best 100 yards on 12 carries.
"Our line was great, they did great," McCoy said. "We just need to keep practicing hard and fine-tuning our plays.
"This was definitely a good test right out of the gate. It was probably one of the more physical football teams we'll play all year. This game helped us a lot with physicality."
Maine converted all three of his extra points.
Mohawk crossed midfield twice in the second half and another drive stalled at its own 48. The Warriors tried to get on the board on their final drive of the game, getting as close as the Laurel 3. But the Spartans held on fourth down and took over at their own 1 with 12 ticks to go.
"The last goal line stand was good," Cooper said. "I thought the whole first half especially we dominated. We had a couple of interceptions.
"The ability to make the plays were big. They made a couple of adjustments and we were able to put a couple of drives together. But overall, I thought our defense played great tonight."
Said McCoy, "It feels great to play against your friends. It's a great atmosphere. Our defense played great tonight."
The Warriors' defense turned the Spartans away once, recovering a fumble in the end zone.
Laurel and Mohawk return to action at 7 p.m. Friday. The Spartans travel to Rochester and the Warriors host New Brighton.
MOHAWK AT LAUREL
MOHAWK 0 0 0 0 — 0
LAUREL 7 7 0 7 — 21
LAUREL — Daniel Blank, 5-yard run (Zachary Maine kick).
LAUREL — Luke McCoy, 3-yard run (Maine kick).
LAUREL — McCoy, 22-yard run (Maine kick).