FORTVILLE — Mt. Vernon has returned home a different team than when it last played on its home turf.
In its first game at Hancock Health Stadium since a 42-6 homecoming loss to Class 4A No. 1 New Palestine on Sept. 9, the Marauders showed they’ve been hard at work on the road.
They showcased the hard work in front of the home fans on Friday, the team’s Senior Night, defeating visiting New Castle 41-20.
“We’re still working on trying to get better every week,” Mt. Vernon coach Vince Lidy said. “We enjoy it for 24 hours, then it’s 0-0 and we’re back on the drawing board .. We don’t focus on anything but who we’re going to play. We have to handle our stuff, get better, and do all the little things during the week, then on Friday the scoreboard will take care of itself.”
A senior led the way on Senior Night.
Eli Bridenthal scored four touchdowns from three different positions, as a receiver, quarterback and returner.
In the first half, Bridenthal caught two touchdown passes (8 and 21 yards) from freshman quarterback Luke Ertel. He added another, lined up at quarterback, with an 11-yard run.
After New Castle’s first possession of the third quarter, Bridenthal returned the Trojans punt 50 yards for a score. It gave Mt. Vernon a 35-point lead, 41-6, resulting in a running clock for the rest of the game.
Ertel had three first-half touchdown passes, connecting with junior Tre Jones on an 11-yarder right before halftime to give the Marauders a 34-6 advantage at the break.
Mt. Vernon opened scoring on its first drive, taking a 3-0 lead on a 32-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Rylan Vinard.
Vinard added a 28-yarder later in the quarter. It followed Ertel’s 8-yarder to Bridenthal and gave Mt. Vernon a 12-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
“The defense came out played really well early, special teams were solid,” Lidy said. “Our offense got points on the board, but when we got good field position, good drives, we have to get touchdowns. A little disappointing on a lack of getting touchdowns (in the first quarter), but credit to their defense on stopping the run.
“That’s a concern now. We have to be able to run the football especially when you get closer to playoff weather.”
New Castle’s lone first-half score came on the first play of the second quarter. Haidyn Bulmer caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Quintin Boatright.
The Marauders quickly answered with the second Ertel-to-Bridenthal strike. They added a two-point conversion on a pass from Ertel to senior Jake Lange.
It was the Marauders third straight win and put them over .500 for the first time this season. Mt. Vernon is 4-3 overall and 4-1 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference.
The performance against the Trojans was their third straight 40-plus scoring night.
At Delta on Sept. 16, Mt. Vernon won 42-28. They beat Pendleton Heights on its homecoming 46-14 on Sept. 23.
Along with getting things done on the offensive side, New Castle’s 13 points (on offense) marked the lowest offensive output from an MV opponent all season. The Trojans added a late interception return for their final score.
The win was Mt. Vernon’s seventh straight against New Castle, which includes a pair of sectional tournament games. Mt. Vernon has scored over 40 points in all seven of the wins.
They will welcome another opponent they’ve had great success against next week, Shelbyville. The Marauders have won six straight against the Golden Bears since a 2017 sectional victory avenged a regular season loss. Mt. Vernon won last year’s game, 49-0, which was called at halftime due to the lights going out at Shelbyville’s stadium.