By Paul Hines
MT. VERNON —
The Rams defense provided a pair of critical stops late in a 35-29 win over Mt. Carmel.
Mt. Vernon's C.J. Lloyd rammed in a one-yard touchdown run that put the Rams up 35-29 with 1:44 left in Friday's game.
Mt. Vernon turned to its defense in the final moments. The Golden Aces raced back up the field on the ensuing kickoff, inside the red zone. Mt. Carmel took over possession at the Rams 17-yard line.
Two plays later Mt. Carmel quarterback Reece Metcalf rolled out of the pocket and ran with the ball. Mt. Vernon's Tyler Knutson punched the ball out, and teammate Brytan Bowers pounced on the loose ball.
Mt. Vernon took the ball back but couldn't advance it and punted back to the Golden Aces. Again, the Rams defense rose up and stonewalled Mt. Carmel.
“Offense had a couple opportunities to seal it and couldn't get it done, couldn't get a first down …. just (defense) kids did a nice job,” Mt. Vernon coach Jared Shaner said.
Mt. Vernon trailed 15-0 after the opening quarter.
“They came out and just shredded us the first couple series defensively,” Shaner said.
Robert Grider kickstarted Mt. Vernon with a fumble recovery he raced into the end zone 77 yards. Mt. Vernon seized the momentum and took more on the next possession after the Rams recovered the kickoff. The ensuing drive ended with a 14-yard touchdown from C.J. Lloyd.
“We've talked about it before,” Shaner said. “This game's all about momentum, and you could just feel it going back and forth in that first half. We took it when Grider had the big defensive return for a touchdown. They got it back late with the muffed punt. It went back and forth in the second half.”
The Rams running back finished the game with 77 yards on the ground. The touchdown evened the score at 15.
The two teams traded touchdowns before halftime. Mt. Vernon's score came from Demontez Miller-Gray on a 35-yard dash.
Mt. Vernon opened the third quarter with a nine-minute drive that ended with a Lloyd one-yard run. The score put the Rams ahead 29-21. The Golden Aces answered with a score of their own and a two-point conversion.
The tie set the stage for Mt. Vernon's final score from Lloyd.
Mt. Vernon finished the regular season 6-3. Mt. Carmel is 8-1.