MOUNT VERNON — For about three quarters, the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets were equal to the task.
The Jackets faced Ohio Capital Conference rival Olentangy in a steady downpour Friday. The Braves, who were ranked third in Division I, Region 3 coming into the game, were expected to roll in and out of Yellow Jacket Stadium with an easy victory.
Instead, it was anything but easy, as Mount Vernon met Olentangy head-on, keeping the score tied well into the fourth. Finally, the Braves prevailed, 23-7 — but, as anyone at the game can attest, the score didn’t demonstrate how close it was.
“With the rain and the mud, we needed to make plays early,” said Mount Vernon head coach Anthony Naples. “It just ended up this way. The kids fought their butts off. I’m really proud of them.”
The score was tied at 7 late in the third when Olentangy (7-1, 4-1 OCC) began a 16-play touchdown drive that took seven minutes, ending with a Luke Hartline 2-yard touchdown. Mount Vernon responded with a 57-yard kickoff return by Lucas Staten. However, the offense stalled and, after punting, watched as Olentangy quarterback Andrew Horstman sealed the game with a 57-yard touchdown run with 1:53 to go.
Horstman was the star for the Braves, rushing for 177 of the team’s 252 total yards on the ground. He also threw for 64 yards.
“They’ve got a good tailback and good threats to the outside,” said Naples. “And, when you’ve got a good running quarterback, he’s very hard to defend. I think we were so aggressive — worrying about the field and trying to move on it — we overran some things and (Horstman) had some success.”
With the loss, Mount Vernon’s playoff hopes are on life support, if not outright gone. It will take a win on Friday — and a lot of help — for the Jackets to have any shot.