BY PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
Mt. Vernon's football team is already preparing for this week's opponent Mascoutah, but there were plenty of intriguing areas from the opening game of the season Friday at Rochester.
Rams quarterback Dylan Reeves couldn't have started his ariel attack much better Friday night against Rochester. On the Rams opening play from scrimmage, he hit wide receiver Doug Gardner for a 43-yard gain.
The passing game got much more difficult after that for Reeves and the rest of the Rams offense. The junior completed two more throws during the game and finished three of 10 for 55 yards on the evening.
The running attack saw some positives on the night. Demontez Miller-Gray turned in several physical runs and finished as the team's leading rusher with 55 yards on eight carries.
The defense yielded 32 points to Rochester, but seemed to settle itself after giving up 13 points in the opening quarter.
The first Rochester score came on a huge 74-yard pass play. Quarterback Robbie Kelly hit for three more passes of 20 yards against the Rams.
Rochester's offense went consistently to running back Trevor Berberet, who ended the game with 100 yards on 17 carries. He also scored three times.
The Rams defense turned in its share of solid plays. The Rams recorded a pair of sacks and forced two fumbles.
Midway through the opening quarter, Rochester coughed up the football. Drew Hester hopped on it and the Rams took over possession. The turnover started a string of miscues for both teams. Mt. Vernon couldn't capitalize on the initial Rochester mistake and made one of their own, giving the ball back to the Rockets after a fumble.
A minute later Rochester scored to go up 13-0. Mt. Vernon took possession back and turned in one of its longest drives of the game. The march lasted about five minutes and started on the Rams own 18 yard line. Miller-Gray broke a pair of first down runs. Braden Fitzjerrells also broke off a 10-yard burst. The big gains helped the Rams move down to the Rochester 36, but the drive ended with a Fitzjerrells interception.
But the Rams got the ball back on the very next play when Rochester fumbled again. This time Mt. Vernon was at Rochester's 49-yard line. The Rams rolled into the red zone after six straight runs and a Rochester penalty but couldn't reach the end zone. The drive stalled, and Rochester had the ball once again.
The Rockets held a 19-0 lead before Fitzjerrells struck from special teams. The sophomore took a kick return and raced 90 yards for a score. The touchdown pulled the Rams to within 19-6.
The Rams offense struggled to produce much in the second half. The Rockets tacked on a pair of scores to go up 32-6 before the Rams could generated its best drive. Mt. Vernon moved the ball, but Rochester limited them to minimal run gains that ate into the remaining time on the clock.
The Rams will try again for a victory when they travel to Mascoutah on Friday.
Paul Hines is the sports editor at the Register-News.