FORTVILLE — Nathan Seifert is hitting his stride at the right time.
The Mt. Vernon junior running back punished Jay County for 155 yards and three touchdowns on six carries as the Marauders pummeled the Patriots 42-14 on Friday night to win in the first round of Sectional 22.
“I came out ready to run,” Seifert said after the Marauders advanced into next week’s semifinals. “I didn’t have to break too many tackles on the big runs I had. The O-line was working hard. They were making it easy on me.”
The Marauders (6-4) front line dictated the tone from the opening snap, and the running backs showed their appreciation.
Seifert’s first run, measured at 35 yards, capped a two-play opening drive that required only 33 seconds.
On Mt. Vernon’s second possession, Seifert broke free again with a 45-yard run as the Marauders marched 66 yards in six plays.
Damari Gatewood provided the Marauders’ longest-scoring play from scrimmage with a 67-yard touchdown run on first-and-10 from Mt. Vernon’s 33-yard line. His sideline sprint was also the team’s second fastest score at 13 seconds.
“We knew if we set the tone early, they wouldn’t be able to stick with us,” Seifert said. “Like we say, ‘Push the accelerator.’ That’s what we were trying to do.”
Seifert’s final touchdown run at 32 yards put the Marauders ahead 35-0 with 7:38 left in the first half. Before the game, he had five touchdowns and 753 yards rushing.
“We came out of the gate pretty good,” Mt. Vernon head coach Doug Armstrong said. “We had things going our way.
“We’ve played against teams that have had more size than us most of the season. We finally found a team we had a size advantage on, so we wanted to get in the wing and pound it and let our runners break some tackles.”
Battered but hardly broken with senior quarterback Jimmy Campbell patrolling the sidelines in a walking boot, the Marauders finished out the season strong.
Mt. Vernon won three of their last four games, including a 24-7 win against Yorktown at home in the regular-season finale.
Back on their home field for the second season, the offense produced five rushing touchdowns and a passing score from backup quarterback Josh Coons.
The sophomore signal-caller ran for an 8-yard touchdown to score the Marauders’ 42nd unanswered point late in the first half.
With the Jay County (4-6) defense loading the box after getting burned for three rushing scores in the first quarter, Coons connected with Gatewood for a wide open pass-and-catch 35-yard touchdown for the team’s fastest score at eight seconds.
The Patriots were held scoreless until the Marauders’ pulled their starters in the second half. Both of their touchdowns went to Drew Huffman at 8 yards in the third quarter and 75 yards late in the fourth. Though stymied in the first half, Huffman finished with 180 yards on 20 carries. He averaged 65.9 yards per game.
The Marauders will now face Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Pendleton Heights in the semifinals next week after the Arabians beat Connersville 48-32.
“Pendleton Heights has a lot of seniors and are one of the best coached teams we play against, and they’re going to bring it,” Armstrong said. “I told my guys, ‘we need to crank it up. Let’s go.’ It’ll be a heck of a game.”