PENDLETON — Nerve-wracking was Jim Leisure’s sensation when he had the reins of Mt. Vernon’s football team for Friday night’s rivalry match with Pendleton Heights.
“I kind of felt like Shooter in the movie Hoosiers,” said Leisure, filling in for head coach Doug Armstrong. “I want to grab Gene Hackman by the throat and say ‘Don’t do this to me again.’”
The Marauders quickly and swiftly calmed Leisure, and caused panic amongst the Arabians on PH’s homecoming.
MV slammed the Arabians to the tune of 513 yards — while not throwing a single pass — and for the third week in a row eclipsed the half-century mark on the scoreboard, triumphing 58-26 and remaining atop the Hoosier Heritage Conference, tied with Delta at 3-0 in the league.
Winners of four straight, the Marauders have outscored their opponents 207-76 during the streak, while running for an eye-popping 1,672 yards.
Senior Kameryn Risper had a breakout night with 203 yards on 21 carries, while classmate Anthony Burnett checked in at 195 along with four touchdowns. A third senior, Andy Spears, scored three times and added 73 yards.
“We prepared this week like champions,” Spears said. “Every person has to play hard every day, and we brought that (Friday).”
As has been their trademark the past month, the Marauders put up points in bunches, relatively early.
PH (3-2, 1-2 HHC) got to within 9-7 near the end of the first quarter, but the middle periods belonged to MV, as it would cash in on five Arabian turnovers en route to a 49-0 run. And run the Marauders did.
Burnett scampered home from 17 and 1 yards out in the second period, and after halftime added TDs of 13 and 71 yards to cap his second four-score night in three weeks. He is now at 796 yards and 14 TDs for the year, both leading Hancock County.
Spears started the Marauder scoring with a 7-yard run on the game’s first drive, then powered in twice from the 1-yard line.
Risper rounded out the MV point parade with a 32-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The Arabians made the result cosmetically better with three late TDs.
The Marauders did it pretty much without their second-leading rusher, Tyler Dicks, who did not start because of what Leisure said was a groin tweak. Dicks carried once for 12 yards.
“We played Kokomo last year and coach Armstrong realized how difficult it was to prepare for (the three-back offense now MV uses),” said Leisure, the Marauders’ offensive line coach. “This summer, coach Armstrong, (offensive coordinator Craig) Barr and I sat down and we drew X’s and O’s, and the more we drew the more we liked it.
“We have two great running backs in Dicks and Burnett, and when we have better players I’m a better coach. It’s nice to have those two back there, and it’s nice to have our line.”
Leisure got the call as the head man with Armstrong having to sit out Friday because of a school policy regarding an oversight with a player’s medical physical paperwork. Armstrong will return next week.
MV is 4-1 or better for the 11th time in 12 years, and with just one sectional title to show for it the challenge now is avoiding another of its frequent tailspins in the second half of seasons.
“Just because we put up 50 points doesn’t mean we aren’t going to work our (rears) off in practice,” Spears said. “We need to stay humble, but we need to keep dominating.”
Mt. Vernon 58, Pendleton Heights 26
MV(4-1, 3-0 HHC) 9 21 21 7 — 58
PH (3-2, 1-2 HHC) 7 0 0 19 — 26
MV — Spears, 7-yard run (kick blocked), 10:00
MV — Justus, 35-yard FG, 2:54
PH — Talbert, 49-yard pass from Je. Furrow (Jo. Furrow kick), 1;10
MV — Burnett, 17-yard run (Justus kick), 7:22
MV — Spears, 1-yard run (Justus kick), 6:45
MV — Burnett, 1-yard run (Justus kick), 4:03
MV — Spears, 1-yard run (Justus kick), 8:09
MV — Burnett, 13-yard run (Justus kick), 3:59
MV — Burnett, 71-yard run (Justus kick), 1:57
MV — Risper, 32-yard run (Justus kick), 11:09
PH — Arney, 9-yard pass from Je. Furrow (kick blocked), 8:30
PH — Wilson, 17-yard pass from Je. Furrow (Jo. Furrow kick), 2:46
PH — Je. Furrow, 1-yard run (no kick), :00
Rushes-yards 63-513 15-81
Passing yards 0 215
Comp-Att-Int 0-0-0 14-18-1
First downs 16 8
Penalties-yards 2-20 4-20
Fumbles-lost 2-2 5-4
Rushing: Risper 21-203, Burnett 15-195, Spears 14-73, Clevenger 3-20, Dicks 1-12, Lohman 1-10, Nicholson 1-2, House 1-1, Miller 3-0, Robertson 2-(1), Gillum 2-(-2) (MV); Taylor 8-51, Arney 3-22, Je. Furrow 3-7, Galliher 1-1 (PH).
Passing: Je. Furrow 14-18-1-215 (PH).
Receiving: Talbert 3-73, Coffel 3-58, Wilson 4-48, Arney 2-25, Cochran 1-13, McCardwell 1-8 (PH).