BY PAUL HINES
The Orphans opened Friday's football game with a punch.
Mt. Vernon responded with a knockout.
The Rams hammered Centralia 37-7 and earned its fifth win of the season. The victory makes Mt. Vernon eligible for the playoffs, a place the Rams haven't been since 2008.
“It feels awesome,” Mt. Vernon coach Jared Shaner said. “I'm very comfortable with our playoff points and where the cutoff line has been before.
“We just have to take time and enjoy this.”
Centralia took the ball to open the game and drove down the field against the Rams defense. The Orphans capped the drive with a touchdown and stormed to a 7-0 edge.
“They went 70 yards or whatever it was, but we had three or four plays where balls were tipped off our hand, one bounced off our chest.”
It was all Rams after that.
Mt. Vernon responded with six straight touchdowns. They came on the ground and through the air.
Dylan Reeves connected on several long throws for the Rams and finished with 123 passing yards and three scores.
Demontez Miller-Gray paced the ground game with 152 yards and two touchdowns.
After the opening drive, Mt. Vernon's defense locked down the Centralia offense.
“Our kids played well on defense,” Shaner said. “I thought we got to the ball good. Offensively they do some good things. They have a nice little screen package.”
Robert Grider burst off the edge and harassed Centralia quarterback Brodric Green. He finished with two of Mt. Vernon's three sacks.
“He's a state quality sprinter on the track team and moved in his sophomore year he started in the secondary,” Shaner said. “His junior year he started at linebacker and we've moved him up every year. He gets off the ball. It's pretty nature for him. He's in a sprinter stance, and he just explodes off the ball.”
The Rams created several turnovers to aid the offensive push. Mt. Vernon punted the ball to Centralia midway through the third quarter up 24-7. The ball brushed an Orphans and Jacobee Marshall pounced on it. The Rams capped the extra opportunity with 30 run to the end zone. Miller also caught a touchdown pass to open the second half and scampered 50 yards to the end zone.
Mt. Vernon's Doug Gardner caught a pair of passes for 47 yards.
Centralia's Green ended the game with 31 pass attempts and 136 yards.
Mt. Vernon is 5-3 this season and ends the regular season with a home game against Mt. Carmel.