THORNDIKE — Only four teams will qualify for the Little Ten Conference playoffs this season, so even with two weeks left in the regular season Dexter and Mount View met in a must-win game Saturday. Thanks to a handful of big plays on offense, defense and special teams in the fourth quarter, Dexter eked out a 34-28 victory.

The victory keeps the Tigers (6-1) in the hunt for a home game in the semifinals. Mount View, now 4-3, must win its final two regular season games and get some help to make the playoffs.

“We knew coming into this, this would be a big game, momentum and playoff-wise. It was really nice, especially after last week (a 36-2 loss to MCI), to get a big win,” said Dexter senior Zach White, who caught three touchdown passes from Brayden Miller and returned a punt for a touchdown.

White’s punt return touchdown came with 10:44 left in the game. White caught the ball at his own 35, eluded the first tackler, and followed his blockers down the left sideline for the 65-yard touchdown. When White caught the 2-point conversion pass from Miller, the score was tied at 28-28.

“To be honest, at the beginning of it I was pretty scared. There was a guy right in my face,” White said. “My guys, the team, blocked it up really well and we ran it perfect. It was more a product of the blocking than anything.”

It looked like the Mustangs would quickly reclaim the lead. When the ensuing onside kick did not go the required 10 yards, Mount View took over on the Dexter 45. Five plays later, the Mustangs had first and goal at the Tigers 6. On third and goal from the two, quarterback Rayno Boivin fell into the end zone, but was ruled down inches from the goal line. On fourth down, Mount View went to fullback Darrin Cook, who had runs of 10 and 12 yards earlier on the drive. The Tigers stuffed the play, driving Cook back to the 3 to end the threat.

“That was just guts. The boys made some plays on the line when we needed it and it was just a gutsy performance by the line. That was probably the biggest play of the game,” White said.

It was the second Mustangs drive of the second half to stall deep inside Dexter territory. Late in the third quarter, a Mount View drive fizzled at the Dexter 10, and ended with a missed 33-yard field goal try.

“That was a nice play down here by them. That was all Dexter defense. They sniffed out what we were doing and did a great job on it,” Mount View coach Haggie Pratt said of the fourth and inches play. “They’re a good football team. We had a couple chances to put them away and we didn’t do it.”

After stopping the Mustangs, Dexter began the game-winning drive, going 97 yards in 11 plays. A big play was a 43-yard run by Tyler Beem, setting the Tigers up first and 10 and the Mustangs 19. On first and goal from the 6, White ran a slant pattern from the left, and Miller hit him for the go-ahead score. It was White’s third touchdown catch of the day, after first quarter catches of 56 and 54 yards that gave the Tigers a 12-6 lead.

“We noticed something on film we thought we could pick on,” said White, who had four catches for 124 yards. “They have a lot of really good athletes. There’s some great players over there. They’re coached well. There’s just a couple tweaks we made, and I think it worked in our favor today.”

Pratt thought the Mustangs would match up better against Dexter’s passing game, but that was contingent on a strong pass rush. Instead, Miller was rarely pressured. Miller completed 11 of 19 passes for 217 yards and an interception.

“The quarterback (Miller) had plenty of time. He’s a good, strong arm, and he played with a lot of poise today,” Pratt said. “We put two or three different guys on (White) two or three different ways, but if we give the quarterback time, those things happen.”

Devan Davis had touchdown runs of 79 and 24 yards in the first half to give Mount View a 14-12 lead, and Cook added and 8-yard scoring run to push Mount View’s lead to 21-12 with 4:42 left in the first half. Miller’s 3-yard touchdown run pulled the Tigers to within a point, 21-20, with 1:00 left, but the Mustangs executed a perfect hurry-up drill, scoring when 2.2 seconds left on a 48-yard pass from Rayno Boivin to Colby Furrow (eight catches, 122 yards).

Mount View’s final chance to tie the game ended when Beem recovered fumble at the Mustang 32 with 2:01 to play.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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