MOUNT VERNON — After a night
of storms and a delayed game, the Mount Vernon High School varsity football team
retook the field on Saturday night to finish its game against the Lexington Minutemen.
Lexington held a 7-3 lead when play was called late in the first quarter on Friday night, and the Minutemen didn’t let up on Saturday. Lexington scored once in the second quarter, and twice each in the third and fourth to hold off the Yellow Jackets, 42-17.
“We played well defensively, and offensively, we tried to find a rhythm,” said Lexington coach B.J. Payne. “We continued to run our game plan. We made some silly mistakes (in the second quarter). We were dropping passes and weren’t protecting real well, and we just had to stick to our game plan. Fortunately, in the third quarter, we did that.”
The game was much closer than the final score tells. Mount Vernon scored right before the half and trailed Lexington, 14-10 at the break. A fumble on the opening kickoff, however, gave the ball to Lexington at the 22-yard line after Jake Eckstein recovered. That started a series of unfortunate events that cost the Jackets any shot at the win.
“I think we saw a lot of good things,” said Mount Vernon coach Gary Keller. “I want to be positive, but on the same token, we made some mistakes. It is obvious we made a couple of mistakes on special teams that really cost us big. We’ve just got to try to correct those things and go on. ... We did some things well. They have two or three really good players and they play with a lot more speed than anybody we have. We were trying to keep them contained, and I think we did a good job of that for the most part.”
Kody Green scored the Jackets first touchdown of the season on a 3-yard run with two seconds left in the first half. The play capped a seven-play drive, which was helped by four Lexington penalties. It also offset a 4-yard touchdown run by Lexington’s Shaquille Jefferson eight minutes earlier.
Lexington, after getting the ball back quickly in the third quarter, jumped ahead, 21-10, on a 9-yard run by Derek Gallick. C.J. Hassman’s kick capped the five-play drive. Mount Vernon got the ball back and began to move down the field, thanks in part to a pair of runs by Jordan Montgomery and Green. Facing first-and-10 at their own 46, however, misfortune struck the Jackets.
Montgomery was hit for a 3-yard loss by Lexington’s Chris Lester and rolled in pain after something popped in his right knee. After a few moments, Montgomery left the field under his own power, but he did not return to the game. The extent of his injury is not known, and he will see the doctor today.
“This was a big loss. It is going to be really hard to bounce back from this, in terms of losing Jordan Montgomery,” said Keller. “I don’t know how long he is going to be out for. He was hit pretty hard. It is disappointing from that regard. ... We are going to go back to the drawing board in terms how we will use our personnel.”
The Jackets continued to battle, but couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm the rest of the game. They picked up just two first downs the rest of the way. Lexington, meanwhile, took advantage of a Mount Vernon penalty right before the third quarter ended to go up 28-10. The Jackets were called for roughing the passer at their own 43, resulting a 15-yard gain for Lexington. Quarterback Courtney Avery then hooked up with running back Brian Byrne on a screen pass and Byrne took it the rest of the way for the 28-yard score with 16 seconds left.
After Mount Vernon went four-and-out to start the fourth quarter, Lexington put together one of its longest drives of the night. The nine-play drive covered 75 yards, and was highlighted by a three-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Smith with 5:36 left. Hassman’s kick made it a 35-10 game.
The Jackets didn’t give up, however. On the first play from scrimmage on the next drive, Leevi Stump got some great blocks to get outside. Once there, he ran 78 yards for the touchdown. Nick Sahr’s kick cut the lead to 35-17.
Lexington closed the game with one more score, as Gallick broke free for a 52-yard run with 2:05 to play.
In addition to Matt Boucher’s interception on Friday night, the highlight for the Mount Vernon defense came early in the second quarter. After big runs by Avery and Byrne moved the ball to the Mount Vernon 5, the Jacket defense held and forced a fourth-and-goal from the 1. Byrne was stopped for a loss of a yard, turning the ball over on downs.
“I think we held our own. One of our strengths is our line,” said Keller. “That was encouraging.”
Lexington was balanced for the game, running for 237 yards and passing for 227. Mount Vernon rushed for 197 yards on 40 carries (4.9 yards per carry average), but attempted on six passing attempt. Green threw for 23 yards. Stump led the offense with 92 yards on seven carries; Montgomery had 42 yards on 12 carries; and Green picked up 34 yards on 13 carries, including four sacks.
“I thought our offense was doing some nice things,” Keller said. “We were moving the ball. Going into the third quarter, we were within striking range. I thought we played well at times, so I am happy about it from that standpoint. We’ve got to be able to create more turnovers and win that turnover ratio.”
Mount Vernon will have to regroup and rework its game plan as it prepares for Week 2’s game at Wooster.
“I think you always build on what’s positive, and we did a lot of positive things,” Keller said. “We’ll go in, look at ourselves and evaluate where we are at. We are going to continue to try to move this team forward. I’m optimistic about this team’s future. We’re not far off.”
Note: The junior varsity that was scheduled for Saturday was not played. It will be made up today at 5 p.m. at Lexington.