PENDLETON — Mt. Vernon was tasked with playing the role of the villain on Friday night, and they played it well.
They traveled up the road to neighboring Pendleton and spoiled the homecoming festivities, beating Pendleton Heights (2-4) 46-14. The win got Mt. Vernon back to .500 on the season at 3-3.
A homecoming parade beforehand had the packed Pendleton Heights crowd rowdy and ready to go. But it took the Marauders just seven minutes to silence them.
They broke onto the scoreboard first on a 23-yard Joliba Brogan run.
The Arabians weren’t going to go down easy though.
A missed tackle by Mt. Vernon on the following drive led to a 61-yard scramble by Pendleton Heights quarterback Isaac Wilson that set up the tying touchdown.
A few plays later he found Jalen Jordan on a 5-yard pass.
That was as close as Mt. Vernon let it get.
A few penalties by the Marauders made their next drive more difficult than it needed to be.
“It doesn’t help when you’re hurting yourself with penalty after penalty. We got a win but we have to get those things corrected,” Mt. Vernon head coach Vince Lidy said. “That will cost us the game come playoffs. We do that and we’re done.”
After pushing the ball well into Arabian territory, the penalties moved them back to first-and-25 from midfield.
Two big gains from quarterback Luke Ertel to receiver George Burhenn moved the chains before Ertel found receiver/back Eli Bridenthal in the end zone for the 20-yard score.
“Eli and George have to get the ball. They are very talented players,” Lidy said. “The expectations are high so they have to perform for us.”
As has become expected for the Marauders, Bridenthal found the end zone three times.
Along with the 20-yard catch, he broke free down the sideline midway through the second quarter on a 33-yard pass from Ertel.
“We cannot afford to become one dimensional,” Lidy said. “Being a young player in the program Luke is always prepared. He works like crazy in practice and he’s learning every week how to manage the expectations. He can spin the ball really well.”
Mt. Vernon added a 37-yard field goal from Rylan Vinard and a Bridenthal 3-yard touchdown run to take a 32-7 lead into halftime.
Bridenthal’s 3-yard run was a near disaster for the Marauders when in a pile of people at the goal line Pendleton Heights came away with the ball and ran it back 100 yards for what they thought was a momentum-changing score.
After a meeting by the officials it was ruled that Bridenthal broke the goal line.
Pendleton Heights made one final push, and scored on the opening drive of the second half.
Wilson led the team down field on a few big runs before punching it in for a 1-yard score.
They had a few more chances to cut into the lead, but the Marauder defense forced a few timely turnovers to stall the Arabians.
“For the most part the defense played really well,” Lidy said. “The issues I have are that we give up big runs and miss multiple tackles. When we don’t do what we are coached to do we get exploited and it’s tough to recover. We cannot allow big plays to happen on broken plays.”
Near the end of the third quarter Bridenthal got involved on the defensive side of the ball when he intercepted Wilson to stop a Pendleton Heights drive that had passed midfield.
Following a blocked punt that set Pendleton Heights up at the Marauder 30-yard line. The defense turned the Arabians over again, twice.
The first fumble recovery was negated by a Marauder roughing the passer, but a few plays later on a ball that was caught at the 5-yard line, a strip and recovery took all of the wind out of the Arabians sails.
“The fumble was a good way to stymie the drive,” Lidy said. “The DB made a good play coming back and stripping it. He shouldn’t have given up inside leverage and allowed the catch, but he came back and made the play.”
Mt. Vernon capped off the scoring with 1 and 11 yard runs by Drew Martin and Ertel in the fourth quarter.