For the Daily Reporter

FORTVILLE — Mt. Vernon’s 2015 season came to an end in Pendleton, but for the 2016 edition of the Marauders, it may have served as a springboard into a postseason push. Mt. Vernon defeated the Arabians 28-9 in a game the Marauders dominated from start to finish despite the relatively close score to improve their record to 3-3 and 3-1 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference.

“We’re getting better,” Marauders head coach Doug Armstrong said afterwards. “We’ve been getting players back from injury, and I believe you can really see us improving as a team.”

Despite a fired up and very large homecoming crowd for the Arabians, the Marauders quickly silenced the onlookers. First, the Mt. Vernon defense forced a three-and-out on Pendleton Heights’ first drive. This was followed by an 85-yard strike from junior quarterback Zac Montgomery to senior receiver Alex Barnett for an early 7-0 lead.

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Montgomery and Barnett were the stars of the night on offense. Montgomery had just one incomplete pass and finished 14 of 15 for 274 yards, two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.

“Zac was able to make some plays,” Armstrong explained. “He was able to buy himself time and have a great game, and I expect that to continue the rest of the season.”

The Arabian offense was unable to muster any sustained offensive threats in the first half, as their only points came on a field goal after a muffed punt gave them a short field. After Montgomery was able to scramble into the end zone, Mt. Vernon had a 14-3 lead heading into the break.

The second offensive star of the night continued to shine in the second half, as Barnett hauled in a touchdown pass early in the quarter to push the Marauder lead to 21-3. After Pendleton Heights scored its only touchdown of the night to get within 12 points, Barnett wisely scooped up the ensuing onside kick attempt and raced 50 yards for the final score of the night to put the game out of reach.

“Barnett is definitely our most explosive player,” Armstrong grinned. “And he’s definitely got a knack for returning kicks.”

Despite a difficult 0-2 start to the season, the Marauders have climbed back to .500 and are only one game out of first place in the Hoosier Heritage Conference. They look to continue their winning ways next week as they host the New Castle Trojans at 7:30 p.m.