MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets are quickly gaining a reputation of being a fourth-quarter team.
And rightly so.
After mounting a comeback against Olentangy Orange to force overtime, the Jackets took the lead before Tommy Queen forced a fumble that was pounced on by Austin Pagani, clinching a 21-14 victory in front of a near-capacity crowd at their Homecoming game.
“It’s great for our kids,” said Mount Vernon head coach Anthony Naples. “They’re hard work is being acknowledged. It’s more than the 53 guys out there. It’s about the whole community. We’re proud to represent Mount Vernon — the city, the school district and our high school.”
Mount Vernon (5-1, 3-0 Ohio Capital Conference) clamped down on both sides of the ball in overtime. Getting the ball first, the Jackets scored on an 11-yard pass play from Greg Briggs to a wide-open Jordan Crabtree.
“I was just praying that we caught the ball,” Crabtree said. “It didn’t matter if I caught it or who did. What matters is we scored.”
From there, the defense needed just one play to seal the victory. Queen hit Orange quarterback Jake Stier in the backfield and forced the ball free. With two Pioneers struggling to get to the ball, Pagani jumped on it and cradled it.
Mount Vernon began its rally as the third quarter wound down, trailing 14-7. After forcing Orange to turn the ball over on downs, Briggs threw to Tyler Galbraith for a first down. After a personal foul against the Pioneers, Briggs threw to Orr, who took it 30 yards for the tying score.
The Mount Vernon defense took over from there. Queen and Matt Lybarger had some key tackles, while Andy Upton ended two Orange drives with a sack.
“Andy’s a low-key guy, but he gets after it,” said Naples. “He’s a hard-nosed, tough kid. He isn’t going to give up. They all did.”
The Jackets survived despite being hit by the turnover bug early and often. Orange (2-4, 0-3 OCC) picked off three passes in the first half. Mount Vernon ball-carriers fumbled three times in the second half, losing two. The last one came on a sack with 8:09 to go.