Mistakes and the ability to capitalize on them was the key in Friday's Suburban West Conference football showdown between Mehlville and Fox.
And at the outset, which began with a botched onside kick on the opening kickoff by Fox, it seemed like the breaks were going to go Mehlville's way.
That feeling was further reinforced when the Panthers connected for a 30-yard halfback option pass on the first play of the game.
Unfortunately, those two plays were about all Mehlville would get on Friday, as Fox forced six Panther turnovers and capitalized on them all in a convincing 41-3 Homecoming Night victory for the Warriors.
"You're not going to win many games turning the ball over six times that's for sure," Mehlville head coach Eric Meyer said. "We're just not doing a good job taking care of the ball right now."
Fox, which is now 3-1 on the season, made the Panthers pay for their carelessness, scoring 41 straight points to win easily, following junior Chris Simmons' 28-yard field goal on Mehlville's first possession that gave the visitors an early 3-0 lead.
"Yeah, it started pretty good for us, we got on the board quick," Mehlville head coach Eric Meyer said. "But then we just made too many mistakes and turned the ball over way too many times to give ourselves a chance tonight."
Senior running back Jimmy Huskey ran for 162 yards and scored four touchdowns for Fox, and teammate Tyler Thompson ran for a score and threw for another one, as Mehlville fell to 1-3.
"I told the kids, what we can't do is get down on ourselves," Meyer said. "Obviously, we've got a lot of things we need to get better at doing."
The Mehlville turnover-fest began on the Panthers' second drive of the game, with a fumble on the first play, which gave Fox the ball at the 25-yard line.
Two plays later, Huskey -- the Suburban West Conference's leading rusher -- burst through the left side of the line, bounced off two tacklers, and scampered into the end zone to give the Warriors the lead.
Later in the first quarter, Mehlville quarterback Joe Murphy had a pass attempt slip out of his hand for a lateral, that was recovered by Fox, which once again took possession deep in Panther territory.
And Huskey made the Panthers pay once again, with a 13-yard score on the next play that along with kicker Blake O'Hearn's PAT, gave Fox a 14-3 lead.
The Warriors turned the game on its ear in the second quarter, when Mehlville fumbled again on its next possession, and Fox scored again on a three-play, 92-yard drive.
The big play on that possession was a 63-yard scamper by Huskey, right through the heart of the Panther defense that turned real bad field position for the Warriors into excellent scoring position at the Mehlville 26.
On the next play, Thompson hit receiver Tyler Brewer for a spectacular 26-yard touchdown that made the score 21-3, and for all intents and purposes the game was over.
"You know it says a lot about our kids that they were able to capitalize on Mehlville's mistakes tonight," Fox head coach Brent Tinker said. "At all levels of sports, it really boils down to being able to capitalize on the other guy's mistakes."
Huskey, who is now the Suburban West Conference-leader with 588 rushing yards (with a whopping 14.7 yards per carry, which is also best in the league) and eight touchdowns in just four games.
His four scores on Friday, helped him overtake Lafayette’s Deonte Robinson for the league lead in touchdowns as well.
"I think Jimmy's the best kept secret in St. Louis-area football," Tinker said. "He had some injury issues in the past that kind of hurt him a bit. But you can see, he's got great size, great speed. I'm just really proud of all the work he's put in to get to where he is right now."
Huskey though, said it was his teammates that made it easier for him to have such a big night on the ground.
"My offensive line did an awesome job tonight," Huskey said. "They were just making great holes and staying on their blocks. Tonight was a lot of fun."
Mehlville will be back in action with its own Homecoming Game next Friday, September 21, when the Panthers will host Marquette at Panther Stadium.
Kickoff that night is 7 p.m.
“I don’t think the kids will have any trouble bouncing back from tonight,” Meyer said. “Our kids are always fired up for the Homecoming Game. The whole school’s going to be excited. So it should be a fun night.”
Score by Quarters ... 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 -- Final
Mehlville ................... 3 ... 0 ... 0 ... 7 -- 3
Fox ............................ 14 .. 7 .. 13 .. 7 -- 41
Mehl - Chris Simmons 28 yd field goal -- 9:47 ....... 3-0
Fox - Jimmy Huskey 21 yd run (Blake O'Hearn kick) -- 7:48 ...... 3-7
Fox - Jimmy Huskey 13 yd run (Blake O'Hearn kick) -- 0:37 ...... 3-14
Fox - Tyler Brewer 26 yd pass from Tyler Thompson (Blake O'Hearn kick) -- 5:46 ... 3-21
Fox - Jimmy Huskey 26 yd run (Blake O'Hearn kick) -- 5:17 ...... 3-28
Fox - Jimmy Huskey 2 yd run (kick failed) -- 3:56 ...... 3-34
Fox - Tyler Thompson 8 yd run (Blake O'Hearn kick) -- 9:34 ..... 3-41