At one point, the game looked like it was going to be another thriller.
But that thought faded away in the second half, thanks to Mullen's speed, size, strength and passing. In the end, the Mustangs pulled off a convincing 44-17 nonconference victory over Doherty on Thursday night at Garry Berry Stadium.
"We didn't want a repeat of last year," Mullen quarterback Kyle Remington said.
Last season, the Mustangs survived a 35-28 triple-overtime win over Doherty at home.
On Thursday night, the Spartans (0-2) made it interesting late in the first half, when senior playmaker Brandon Becker scored his second TD of the game to cut the Mullen lead to 19-14. It capped off a 16-yard, 81-yard drive.
But in the second half, it was all Mullen.
The Mustangs (2-0) went on to score three unanswered touchdowns to go ahead with a comfortable 41-14 lead at the end of the third quarter. There was no stopping Mullen — though Gaboric Decker nailed an impressive 35-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter.
"We wanted to show them that we're a different team this year," said Mullen's Remington, who completed three TD passes. "We work hard. I think it started in the weight room months ago, in the summer. I think we proved that we're stronger, faster than these guys tonight."
"Honestly, we wanted it more," he added.
Mullen boasted speed in shifty senior running back Damien Cearns, who started off the onslaught by catching a swing pass from Remington on the third play of the game and taking it 85 yards for a 7-0 lead.
Cearns showed off his explosiveness on two other long scores, including a 79-yard run and a 73-yard catch.
Mullen also boasted 6-foot-3, 300-pound defensive lineman Stacey Keanaaina, a Notre Dame commit who gave the Doherty offense a headache throughout the night.
The Mustangs jumped off to a strong 13-0 start in the first quarter. It started with Remington's swing pass to Cearns, followed by another Remington pass, this time to Ryan Hearty 40-yard score.
But Doherty answered back, thanks to Brandon Becker twice scoring on short runs to eventually cut it to a 5-point deficit.
However, the Mustangs controlled the second half and ran away with the victory.
Doherty was trying to bounce back from their Week 1 loss to Cherry Creek — last year's Class 5A state runner-up.
The Spartans' coaches and players said waved to a big home crowd at Garry Berry Stadium but then hurried into the locker room while Mullen continued to celebrate its win Thursday night.