McNair running back Andre Harris (5) tries to get outside of Towers’ defender Shun Taylor. Harris rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns in the 20-0 McNair victory. (Photo by Mark Brock)

Andre Harris rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns and the McNair Mustangs’ defense pitched a shutout against the Towers Titans in both teams’ season opener to take a 9-8 lead in the all-time series between the two DeKalb rivals.

The Mustangs (1-0) held on defense on the opening drive of the game and a short punt had McNair with a first down on the Titans’ 40-yard line.

Harris got loose on the first play weaving his way down the field from the left side to the right side for 37 yards to Towers’ three-yard line.

Towers’ Khalil White and Eric Boykins dropped Harris for an 8-yard loss on the next play and the Mustangs were facing and second and goal at the 10-yard. Another Towers defensive play stopped McNair for no gain and it was third and goal at the 10.

Harris took over again running for eight yards to set up a fourth and goal at the two-yard line. Harris finished the drive off as he followed his blockers straight into the end zone for the score. Harris added the point after try for a 7-0 McNair lead with 8:05 left in the first quarter.

After Towers (0-1) went three and out on its next possession, McNair drove to the Titans’ 19-yard line where the ball went over on downs.

A pair of delay of game penalties on Towers and a pair of Shannon Duckworth tackles for losses forced Towers to punt from its own 7. McNair’s Darius George hauled in the punt at the 33-yard line and returned it 32 yards to the Towers’ one-yard line to set up another Harris touchdown.

Harris went up the middle behind his line and into the end zone to make it a 13-0 McNair lead with 9:53 left in the first half.

McNair completed a four play 59-yard drive with 3:11 left in the first half to take a 20-0 lead. Harris had a pair of 12-yard carries and Javon Yearby got loose down the left sideline for 33 yards to set himself up for a two-yard touchdown run on the next play. Harris added the point after for the 20-0 halftime lead.

The Mustangs fumbled on their first possessions of the second half deep in their own territory, but the defense came up with some big plays to prevent Towers from getting into the end zone.

McNair linebacker Kemra Matthew (8) sacks Towers’ quarterback Jordan Dennis (2). Matthew had two sacks in the third quarter as the Mustangs held on for the shutout. (Photo by Mark Brock)

Kerma Matthew had a pair of big sacks that contributed to the stalling of both scoring threats by the Titans as he was responsible for a 10-yard loss on the first drive and an 11-yard loss on the second. Markell Sutton ended the second scoring threat with an interception in the end zone.

Towers forced a turnover on downs by McNair on its next drive at the Titans’ 21 and began moving downfield where McNair got a big stop for no gain on fourth and four at the Mustangs’ 27.

A pair of bad snaps by the Mustangs set Towers up with two scoring threats at the McNair 21 and later at the McNair 14. The Mustangs defense came up with an interception by Darius George in the end zone and forced a fumble to end the threats.

The Mustangs ran out the final 2:02 of the game to preserve the 20-0 victory.

McNair finished with 253 yards rushing with Harris’ 149 (114 in the first half) and 97 yards from Yearby. McNair’s defense limited Towers to just 26 yards of total offense (1-yard rushing and 25 passing) while having 10 defensive plays for negative yardage in the game.

McNair takes this week off with an open date before taking on Redan (0-1) on August 31 while Towers (0-1) moves on to face off with Columbia at 7:30 pm on Friday at Avondale Stadium.