Marauders win first sectional since 2006, eager for Cathedral

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FORTVILLE — For the members of the Mt. Vernon football team, the celebration of the program’s first sectional championship since 2006 will last less than 13 hours.

The Marauders expected to get to this point entering the 2012 season, and they expect to compete with the defending 4A state champions next weekend, and that’s why players were expected to report back to work at 10 a.m. today.

On Friday night, Mt. Vernon was challenged thoroughly by an opponent for the first time since its opening-day overtime loss to Kokomo on Aug. 17. But the Eagles’ effort wasn’t enough, and the host Marauders prevailed 28-13 in the Sectional 13 championship.

With its victory, 4A No. 4 Mt. Vernon (11-1) not only earned its fourth sectional crown in school history, but also gathered a regional final date next Friday with No. 7 Cathedral (7-5), the two-time reigning state champions.

The Irish advanced by topping No. 3 Roncalli 34-7 in Sectional 14, winning their seventh straight sectional championship. Cathedral will look to capture its sixth straight regional title against MV.

“They’re a big, tough football school, but we have big, strong guys too. We’ve got guys just as big as them,” Mt. Vernon running back/linebacker Andy Spears said. “We’re going to be pumped up. Cathedral will be a tough task, but I think we’ll be ready.”

Not since its 28-21 setback to Kokomo had the Marauders faced any second-half adversity, but the Eagles proved to be more than game after being shutout 35-0 by MV on Oct. 5 — a win that secured the Hoosier Heritage Conference title for the black-and-gold.

The first quarter was a defensive battle that featured a trio of three-and-outs (two by Delta, one by MV), two takeaways (a fumble recovery by Delta, an interception by MV) and zero points, the first time the Marauders failed to score in the opening stanza all season.

But near the end of the first period, the wheels began to turn on the Mt. Vernon ground attack, which entered averaging nearly 375 rushing yards per game and finished the night with 327.

With 10:07 remaining in the second quarter, Spears plunged in from three years out to cap a six-play, 72-yard drive. The march was highlighted by a 36-yard scamper by Anthony Burnett, and then a 26-yard over-the-shoulder snag by Burnett from QB Jordan Miller on 3rd-and-13 to set up Spears’ 19th TD run.

Delta picked up two first downs on its next drive, but was forced to punt and MV took over on its own 26.

Mt. Vernon running back Tyler Dicks — fresh off a 14-carry, 285-yard performance against Pendleton Heights — burst through the line on the first play for a 74-yard TD, his 22nd rushing score of the season.

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