By Matt Turer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
MT. VERNON, Mo. — Three games. Three wins. Two tight battles. It hasn’t been easy going for the third-ranked Class 3 team in the state, but the Mt. Vernon Mountaineers (3-0) still find themselves perfect three weeks into the season.
That perfect record wasn’t secured until the final seconds on Friday night when Jagen Prescott clasped his hands around a game-clinching interception, halting Marshfield’s march towards an upset and securing the 18-13 final.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Mt. Vernon head coach Tom Cox said. “We preached it all week. [Marshfield] has good athletes and they’re so much bigger than us, and that gets to you by the fourth quarter.”
The Mountaineers led 18-6 entering the fourth quarter before Brennan Espy (13-for-21, 112 yards), Gavin McIlwain (8 rec., 69 yards) and Daylon Kanengieter methodically executed a 14-play, 71-yard scoring drive to bring the Jays within five points with 3:32 to play.
“We knew we would get a chance in the second half,” Marshfield head coach Cody Bull said. “We just had to execute and play and see where it put us, and our guys did a good job getting back into the game and not letting it get away from us.”
With Mt. Vernon struggling to move the ball with consistency after Carson Bowman exited with a knee injury in the second quarter, the Jays got their stop and got the ball back with just under two minutes on the clock.
Espy opened the game’s final drive with completions of 13 yards to McIlwain and 18 yards to Brooks Espy, followed by a six-yard Kanengieter scamper to Mt. Vernon’s 26. Two plays later facing a third and six, Prescott made his game-clinching play, snagging a tipped ball to secure the win for the Mountaineers.
“We have guys that are ready to win games,” Bull said. “You know, we came up short against a really good team and a really good coach and a really good program. We gave ourselves a chance to win at the end and didn’t get it done.”
BOWMAN DOMINATES FIRST HALF
Bowman led all rushers with 124 yards on 10 carries despite missing over half the game with a knee injury sustained in the second quarter.
The senior put Mt. Vernon ahead 6-0 with a 17-yard rush on a delayed handoff on the game’s opening drive. He’d score again on the second Mountaineers possession, finding the sideline and avoiding two tacklers during an electric 61-yard sprint to a 12-0 lead.
Following Bowman’s exit, the Mountaineers leaned heavily on Zach Jones. Jones carried the ball 13 times in the second half and 19 times in the game for 85 yards and a score and added 139 yards on 12-of-20 passing.
“We put the game on Zach Jones’s legs and shoulders tonight, and on our defense,” Mt. Vernon head coach Tom Cox said. “And fortunately they responded.”
All other Mt. Vernon ball carriers combined for just 23 yards on eight carries.
“We’re really concerned about Carson and that knee,” Cox said. “Then we had Sam Burks come in, and he hurt his ankle. So we were down to running backs who don’t have a lot of experience. We’ll have to make a few adjustments [next week] if Carson can’t go.”
Mt. Vernon’s defense held Marshfield to six drives of six plays or less in the game, including two ending in interceptions, one ending in a fumble recovery and four three-and-outs. The Mountaineers also had two sacks and held the Blue Jays to 251 yards of offense.
The Blue Jays two scoring drives came off sustained drives of 12 plays and 14 plays. Trailing 12-0 early in the second quarter, Marshfield cut the score in half off Kanengieter’s first touchdown run of the night.
Kanengieter finished with 63 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Mt. Vernon appeared primed to go ahead two scores entering the half but Marshfield’s defense forced and recovered a fumble at their own one-yard line to keep the 12-6 score.
“I was disappointed in the way that we played and some of the plays we didn’t execute,” Cox said. “I didn’t feel like they stopped us. I felt like we stopped ourselves with poor passing or poor blocking or holding penalties. But Marshfield had a lot to do with that. I thought they were a very good team.”
MHS — 0 | 6 | 0 | 7 | — 13
MTV — 12 | 0 | 6 | 0 | — 18
MTV TD 7:26
C. Bowman run for 17 yards for a TD (Kick no good) // 6-0 MTV
MTV TD 2:28
C. Bowman run for 61 yards for a TD (2pt no good) // 12-0 MTV
MHS TD 10:17
D. Kanengieter run for 5 yards for a TD (2pt no good) // 12-6 MTV
MTV TD Z. Jones run for 1 yard for a TD (Kick no good) // 18-6 MTV
MHS TD D. Kanengieter run for 6 yards for a TD (Kick good) // 18-13 MTV