BY PAUL HINES
MASCOUTAH — As the seconds ticked down in Mt. Vernon's victory over Mascoutah, several Rams players snuck behind coach Jared Shaner.
With a few seconds left the Rams dumped a bucket of water and ice over the victorious coach.
Shaner shook off a chill and smiled.
The Rams had tasted victory for the first time since 2011. Mt. Vernon beat Mascoutah 28-7 Friday night.
“It feels good. I'm just super proud of our kids,” Shaner said.
The Rams offense excelled in short yardage, winning nearly every battle at the line of scrimmage.
“It's always good when your O-line comes over and says, 'Hey just run (our quarterback sneak play).
“They just felt like they were getting off the ball well.”
The Rams struck twice in the opening quarter to build a 12-0 lead. Both came on goal-line situations. Quarterback Dylan Reeves took the first touchdown in from two yards away. Drew Hester rammed in a second score from a yard out with three minutes left. The Rams had another chance to score sandwiched between the two scores, but Reeves fumbled while trying to punch the ball in from two yards out.
Mt. Vernon took a 12-0 lead into halftime and tacked on in the third when Reeves hit Doug Gardner from eight yards away for a score. Reeves finished seven of eight in the passing attack for 93 yards. All completions and yards went to Gardner.
The big blow came in the final quarter and involved another Reeves to Gardner connection.
Mascoutah gained some momentum in the second half by spreading the Mt. Vernon defense out and using its athletic quarterback Tim Parks to scramble and complete passes. Mascoutah closed to within 20-7 before Reeves and Gardner collaborated. On third down, Reeves lofted a pass over the Mascoutah defense. Gardner grabbed the ball and muscled his way into the end zone with three minutes left.
“(I'm) just super proud that our guys stepped up, got another stop on defense, and then went down and scored on offense just to seal it,” Shaner said.
A safety on a fumbled Mascoutah punt snap completed the scoring.
Mt. Vernon's defense finished with five sacks. Robert Grider led the team with two.
“I thought our defense played their tails off,” Shaner said. “Our special teams were all solid.”
Demontez Miller-Gray led the rushing attack with 91 yards.
Mt. Vernon is 1-1 this season and hosts Triad on Friday.