MT. VERNON —
Mt. Vernon's football team was struggling early against Mt. Carmel.
The Golden Aces backed the Rams against the ropes early Friday night and were headed for a knockout punch.
It never happened.
Instead, down 15-0 the Rams struck back. Mt. Carmel was driving deep in Rams territory, trying to push its lead to three scores early in the second quarter. Mt. Vernon defensive end Robert Grider squashed the threat when he scooped up a fumble and ignited his sprinter's speed.
He raced about 75 yards with the ball and was never touched.
The score sliced Mt. Carmel's lead to 15-8 after a two-point conversion.
Mt. Vernon's momentum continued to build on the very next play. Kicker Dylan Reeves dribbled an onside kick that knocked around near the Rams sideline. Mt. Vernon's special teams hopped on the ball, and the Rams took over possession 33 yards from the end zone.
Reeves converted a third and short with a 12-yard run from his quarterback position to move the Rams down to the 14-yard line. On the next play, C.J. Lloyd ripped off a 14-yard touchdown run. The score helped the Rams knot the game at 15.
The strikes spanned 97 seconds and proved to be a critical stretch in the game.
Mt. Vernon's offense had managed just nine plays in the opening quarter and struggled to gain control of the game with its patented rushing attack. The two teams traded touchdowns to end the half, but a score from Demontez Miller-Gray gave the Rams a 22-21 edge.
The second half saw the Rams offense gain more traction in the run game. Lloyd was able to consistently move the ball behind his blockers and finished with 72 yards.
The Rams defense continued its solid effort, holding the Golden Aces to just a single score in the second half.
Mt. Carmel tied the score late in the third quarter, but it was another score from Lloyd and a pair of defensive stands that clinched the victory for Mt. Vernon.
Paul Hines is the sports editor at the Register-News.