GREENFIELD — For the first time in four quarters of play, Cougar Stadium was completely silent.
Faced with a fourth-and-13 at their own 42-yard line, trailing 14-7 with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, Mt. Vernon needed one big play.
And after a 39-yard tipped pass thrown by Marauders quarterback Jimmy Campbell landed in the hands of sophomore wide receiver Alex Barnett at the 3-yard line, Mt. Vernon got what they needed and rolled to a come-from-behind 20-14 overtime win against Greenfield-Central.
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“He made a big play for us,” Marauders head coach Doug Armstrong said.
“He’s (Barnett) a young guy, first year of varsity football, and he’s going to get even better. We needed a big play at that time, and he and Jimmy Campbell provided it for us.
“And we kind of just took it from there.”
Although he said he was disappointed with the end result, Greenfield-Central head coach Roger Dodson said sometimes, things like this just happen.
“That’s football, and that happens,” he said. “We were on the wrong side of it this time. The kid made a play. I thought our kid made a good play on it. Another inch and the game is over.”
A game circled on each team’s calendar did not start in smooth fashion, though, as Greenfield-Central’s and Mt. Vernon’s Week 3 county rivalry game was delayed by Mother Nature.
After an hour and a half of lightning delays, Friday’s game finally began around 9:05 p.m. with both the Cougars and Marauders rearing to compete.
Most fans were not disappointed.
Although victorious, Mt. Vernon (2-1, 1-0 Hoosier Heritage Conference), who has now won five straight against Greenfield-Central, came out of the gate flat footed. Six straight run plays by the Cougars (2-1, 0-1 HHC) to open the game allowed a score with 6:55 left in the first quarter. Starting quarterback Jeremiah Fields capped a 33-yard drive with a 1-yard sneak.
After a turnover on downs from the Marauders, the Cougars ate up nearly four minutes of clock before being forced to punt.
Campbell would drop the ensuing punt, allowing Greenfield-Central to take over with excellent field position with 1:10 left in the first quarter.
After seven more runs plays, Fields would find Lee Dullaghan for a 1-yard touchdown reception, his first pass of the game, to give the Cougars a 14-0 lead with 8:55 remaining in the half.
Mt. Vernon would find the end zone on a 14-play, 63-yard drive that ended with Eric Jones rushing three yards with just more than 20 second left before the break giving the Cougars a 14-7 lead.
In the first half, Greenfield-Central totaled 109 yards, 108 on the ground, to Mt. Vernon’s 72 (58 on the ground). The Cougars managed 11 first downs as the Marauders only tallied six.
“Field position was a factor,” Armstrong said of the Cougars first-half rushing totals. “We were kind of playing decent defense, but they got good guys up front, and those backs are good. They just kept moving the chains. They earned it and outplayed us there.”
Dodson added that the conditions made using Fields and the passing attack a secondary option.
“We ran the ball well, and we controlled the line of scrimmage well,” he said. “It (the field) wasn’t the easiest place to do a whole lot throwing wise.”
After a scoreless third quarter of play, momentum began to cement in Greenfield-Central’s direction when sophomore linebacker Johnny Bowen stopped Marauders junior running back Nathan Seifert on fourth-and-1 with 4:08 remaining in the game.
With the clock on their side, the Cougars failed to muster any offense and were forced to give to the ball back to Mt. Vernon, who received the ball with just more than two minutes to go.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
Campbell punched in a score after Barnett’s breathtaking catch and the game, tied at 14 all, headed to overtime.
The Marauders held momentum and forced Fields to slip and throw an interception (caught by senior Jackson Montgomery) on second- and-goal from the 10-yard line (OT rules gives each team a possession at the 10). Campbell would score on second-and-7 on a original quarterback sneak call that the senior would take outside left for the game-winning score.
“The field and the wet ball were really not too conducive to some of what Jimmy can do,” Armstrong said. “He found a way. He finds a way. Your quarterback has to be this tough leader, and fortunately for us, Jimmy is.”
Added Dodson: “We knew Campbell was a good athlete and that we would have to contain him, and for the most part we did. They just came up with some big plays.”
He finished with 88 passing yards, 70 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Fields was 3 for 4 for 28 yards as senior Andy Kim led the rushing attack with 12 carries for 56 yards.
Defensively, Mt. Vernon’s Mitch McCarthy and Nathan Seifert added 11 tackles apiece as Dullaghan led Greenfield-Central with six.
The Cougars were held scoreless for more than 32 minutes of play, and they will look to bounce back next week with a road trip to Pendleton Heights.
Mt. Vernon will stay on the road in Week 4 and head to conference foe New Palestine (3-0, 1-0 HHC) to face the Class 5A No. 1 Dragons. Both kickoffs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.