FORTVILLE — The Mt. Vernon football team took hold of the conference traveling trophy Friday, Anthony Burnett surpassed 1,000 yards rushing for the season and the Marauders broke a two-game losing streak to Hancock County rival Greenfield-Central with a demonstrative 54-13 victory.
Behind it all, or more precisely in front of it, was a Mt. Vernon offensive line that paved the way for 442 rushing yards on 48 carries against the Cougars, with Burnett (165 yards, three touchdowns) and Tyler Dicks (176 yards, two touchdowns) doing most of the damage.
“They won the line of scrimmage,” said G-C head coach Roger Dodson, who called Mt. Vernon the best team the Cougars have faced this season. “They run a unique offense, but they’ve got the people to do it. They’re a strong, physical team and they really kind of took it to us.”
The Marauders, who operate a version of the wing-T offense featuring multiple options out of a tight formation, raced to a 21-0 lead, with Burnett (34 yards), Dicks (50 yards) and Andy Spears (two yards) punching first-quarter touchdown runs. The early scoring blitz erased any chance of a repeat of last season’s 6-0 overtime win by the Cougars, or the 14-6 G-C win of 2010.
Mt. Vernon coach Doug Armstrong believes the core of his team’s offense — the highest-scoring in the state in Class 4A — is in the trenches.
“Our linemen have come out most every game from the start and just went to work knowing that if they do their job, the backs are going to do theirs,” he said. “And our backs and tight ends are blocking for each other, as well.”
Lucas Rice at center, guards Wyatt Gutierrez and Tristen Blanton, Brandon Lindman and Nick Smoot at tackle and tight ends Dan Werner and Cody Baker were the Mt. Vernon starters on the offensive line Friday, under the tutelage, Armstrong noted, of assistant coach Jim Leisure.
“He’s with them dudes all day every day,” Armstrong said of his longtime assistant.
The Mt. Vernon (6-1, 5-0 Hoosier Heritage Conference) ground assault didn’t let up until Armstrong pulled his starters near the end of the third quarter.
Burnett added his second and third touchdown gallops (of three and 20 yards) in the second quarter for a 33-0 MV lead; Dicks opened the third quarter with a 20-yard touchdown run; Spears registered his second score with a 19-yard scamper; and Alec Lohman ended the MV scoring with a 43-yard rushing touchdown with just over three minutes left in the third quarter and the Marauders in front 54-0.
At that point in the contest, the Mt. Vernon defense was on a seven-quarter shutout streak. The Marauders blanked Shelbyville 42-0 last week.
But, with both teams’ reserve units in the game, the Cougars (3-4, 2-3 HHC) got on the board with a Josh McDonald 20-yard touchdown run with less than eight minutes to play. And Nick Warren grabbed a 20-yard touchdown reception from third-string quarterback Geordan Stump with 12 seconds remaining for both players’ first career varsity scores.
Shortly thereafter, the G-C seniors presented Mt. Vernon with the HHC Helmet, the conference’s traveling trophy, which began the year at New Palestine, then went to Pendleton Heights, Shelbyville and G-C.
The Cougars can’t get the helmet back this season and, on a night that they gained 47 rushing yards on 30 carries before the reserve unit took the field, and with three interceptions in the passing game, Dodson said it will be important to quickly forget about the drubbing and move on.
“You’ve got to,” he said. “We may have an opportunity to play these guys again (in the sectional). You look at this film and look at all the things you can do better.”
G-C quarterbacks Jordan Conley — the starter — and Jimmy Baggott had five completions each, with Conley throwing two interceptions and Baggott tossing one pick.
Conley connected with Brant Boles-Lattimore for three receptions for 67 yards to mark the main first-unit offensive highlights.
Kameryn Risper had two of the Marauders’ interceptions (and also had a catch on a two-point conversion from quarterback Jordan Miller) and Lohman had the other interception.
Conley was the Cougars’ leading rusher with 33 yards on 17 attempts.
With his 165 yards on the ground, Burnett surpassed 1,000 for the season and has 1,047 entering Week 8 (pending official stats from the team).
It was the sixth-straight dominant effort on both sides of the ball for the Marauders, who haven’t lost since a season-opening 28-21 overtime setback to 5A Kokomo (5-2). During the win streak, Mt. Vernon has outscored its competition by an average of 50.3-14.8.
But, with trips to Delta (5-2, 4-1 HHC) and New Palestine (2-5, 1-4 HHC) remaining to close out the regular season, now is no time for the Marauders to be overconfident, Armstrong cautioned.
“The next two weeks are crucial,” the second-year MV coach said. “It’s got to be like a two-week season. We’ve got to forget everything that’s happened to this point.”
A victory over Delta next week would clinch the outright conference title for MV.
“We want a conference championship, and we’ve had that goal for a while,” Armstrong added. “We had that goal all last winter and this summer and we’re close, but it’s going to be tough.”
Notes: The sectional draw is Sunday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. … Delta has nine straight wins over Mt. Vernon. The Marauders’ last victory in the series was 56-34 on Oct. 11, 2003. … Delta beat Rushville 31-8 Friday. Mt. Vernon defeated the Lions 55-14 on Sept. 8.
Mt. Vernon 54, Greenfield-Central 13
GC (3-4, 2-3 HHC) 0 0 0 13 — 13
MV (6-1, 5-0 HHC) 21 12 21 0 — 54
MV — Burnett, 34-yard run (kick failed), 10:14
MV — DIcks, 50-yard run (Risper, 2-yard pass from Miller), 5:56
MV — Spears, 2-yard run (Justus kick), 1:35
MV — Burnett, 3-yard run (kick failed), 9:03
MV — Burnett, 20-yard run (2-yard pass failed), 2:47
MV — Dicks, 20-yard run (Justus kick), 9:15
MV — Spears, 19-yard run (Justus kick), 4:51
MV — Lohman, 43-yard run (Justus kick), 3:04
GC — McDonald, 20-yard run (Daniel kick), 7:49
GC — Warren, 20-yard pass from Stump (kick failed), :12
First downs 11 16
Rushes-yards 42-120 48-442
Passing yards 151 53
Comp-Att-Int 11-26-3 1-1-0
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 4-3
Penalties-Yards 1-5 4-40
Rushing: Conley 17-33, Boles-Lattimore 1-(-3), McDonald 5-29, Hoskins 7-19, Nuckols 6-29, Baggott 4-(-15), Dickerson 2-28 (GC); Burnett 14-165, Spears 5-45, Dicks 13-176, Miller 2-(-2), Risper 2-1, Lohman 1-43, Robertson 5-15, Nicholson 1-0, Clevenger 2-12, Gillum 1-(-7), House 1-(-5), Walrod 1-(-1) (MV).
Passing: Conley 5-12-79, Baggott 5-12-52, Stump 1-3-0 (GC); Miller 1-1-53, Walrod 0-0-0 (MV).
Receiving: Boles-Lattimore 3-67, Felts 1-10, Hoskins 1-2, Irbe 1-10, Bever 2-30, Gellert 1-12, Dickerson 1-0, Warren 1-20 (GC); Baker 1-53 (MV).