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Marauders roll past Trojans in HHC football

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New Castle quarterback William Grieser (1) looks for a receiver as the Trojans' Nick Burns (63) blocks visiting Mt. Vernon (Fortville)'s Mekhi Richmond (60) and Dylan Beck (35) looks for someone to block during Friday night's HHC football game at Neal Field. Grieser threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns, but the Marauders won 61-20.
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New Castle's Brandon Matney (30) runs for yardage after catching a pass as viviting Mt. Vernon (Fortville)'s Jalen Thomeson (33) attemptes to tackle him during Friday night's HHC football game at Neal Field. Matney caught nine passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, but the Marauders defeated the Trojans 61-20.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

The Mt. Vernon (Fortville) High School football team rolled to a 40-0 first-half lead over host New Castle Friday night at Neal Field and went on from there to post a 61-20 victory In Hoosier Heritage Conference action.

The visiting Marauders improved to 3-2 in the HHC and 5-2 overall while the Trojans dipped to records of 1-4 in the conference and 2-5 for the season.

A couple of parameters from the game would seem to point to a different outcome. New Castle ran 87 plays from scrimmage compared to 53 for Mt. Vernon, and the Trojans recorded 22 first downs to the Marauders’ 15.

But those things, in themselves, don’t put points on the scoreboard, and in the end the final score is all that matters.

New Castle had an astounding seven punts (one blocked) and coughed up the ball on its first eight possessions in the first half while Mt. Vernon bolted to that 40-point advantage.

“We had a poor first quarter, didn’t play very well, and that’s on me,” New Castle Coach Kyle York said after the game. “It all starts with execution on both sides of the ball. We got outplayed, outcoached, and were the inferior team tonight.”

The Trojans won the opening coin toss and deferred to the second half, and the Marauders received the opening kickoff. The visitors generated one first down, but three plays generated just two yards and they punted to the New Castle 21.

The hosts got a first down on a pass play, but two plays after that generated minus-nine yards with the ball carrier being separated from the football on the latter play, and the loose pigskin was recovered by Mt. Vernon’s Jack Robinson at the Trojan 22-yard line.

Mt. Vernon was in the end zone five plays later as Shaun Shipley carried the ball in from five yards for the touchdown. The extra-point kick missed so the Marauders were up 6-0 with 7:01 left in the first quarter.

The Trojans punted after consecutive three-and-out series on their next two possessions, and Mt. Vernon scored after each.

After a fine punt return by the visitors’ Rylan Cole to the New Castle 24-yard line, Mt. Vernon quarterback Gehrig Slunaker passed the ball to Rylan Cole for a 24-yard TD strike on the very next play. The extra-point attempt failed.

After the next Trojan punt, Slunaker threw a 56-yard pass completion to Dawan Langston that took the ball to the New Castle eight.

Keagan LaBelle carried the ball into the end zone for the TD on the next play, AJ Swingle kicked the extra point, and the Marauders led 19-0 with 3:28 remaining in the first period.

Nothing of significance happened for either team over their next two possessions. The Trojan got runs for first downs of 18 and 21 yards by quarterback William Grieser, but punted after those two times with the ball.

Mt. Vernon got nothing on its next possession and just one first down on the one after that, punting after both.

After another three-and-out on its next possession, New Castle punted the pigskin and it was returned to the Trojan 27 by Ashden Gentry.

After an illegal procedure penalty on the visitors moved the ball back to the 32-yard line, a 22-yard pass from Slunaker to Rylan Cole and a five-yard Trojan penalty moved the ball to a first-and-goal at the New Castle five.

A penalty on Mt. Vernon moved the ball back to the 13, but LaBelle scored from there on the next play and Swingle booted the PAT kick for a 26-0 Marauder advantage with 6:26 left in the second quarter.

The Trojans generated a first down on their next possession but the drive stalled, the punt was blocked, and Mt. Vernon had the ball on the New Castle 25.

Two runs for first downs by Lazavier Heard and Slunaker placed the ball at the three, and Slunaker tossed a three-yard TD pass to Cam Cole. Swingle’s PAT kick increased the visitors’ advantage to 33-0 with 3:31 left in the first half.

Still another three-and-out plus punt by the Trojans gave Mt. Vernon the ball at its 45-yard line. A 28-yard pass from Slunaker to Langston moved the ball to the New Castle 27.

The visitors were in the end zone two plays later on runs of 19 yards by Rylan Cole and eight yards by Slunaker to the house for the touchdown. Swingle’s PAT boot boosted the Marauder lead to 40-0 with 2:20 left in the second period.

The Trojans still hadn’t scored an offensive touchdown in nine quarters of play and needed a touchdown to avoid being “Mercy Ruled” at the start of the second half.

The New Castle offense responded with a nine-play, 80-yard drive for a score. Pass plays from Grieser to Brandon Matney (twice), Cooper Rusch, and Kyle Gabbard plus a 10-yard Grieser run moved the pigskin to the Mt. Vernon 37.

On the next play, Grieser located a wide-open Tytus Ragle with a pass along the left sideline, and Ragle took the ball to the house for the 37-yard TD. The extra-point kick was wide, and the Trojans trailed 40-6 with 52.5 seconds remaining in the first half.

After the Marauders got a first down on their next possession, Slunaker was sacked by New Castle’s Jack Taylor and Dylan Beck, and Beck recovered the loose pigskin at midfield with 19.1 seconds left in the opening half.

A five-yard pass completion and two Mt. Vernon penalties totaling 20 yards moved the ball to the visitors’ 25-yard line, but only three seconds remained before halftime. Grieser ran out of bounds after a gain of five yards as the clock expired.

The Marauders had 268 net yards of offense (93 rushing, 175 passing) in the opening 24 minutes while the Trojans countered with 137 net yards (12 rushing, 125 passing).

New Castle took the second-half kickoff, generated a first down on Grieser pass completions to Matney and Gabbard, but then a Grieser pass was pilfered by Rylan Cole at the host’s 45-yard line.

Eighteen yards in penalties against Mt. Vernon set it back and the Marauders punted to the New Castle 29.

Aided by 30 yards in Mt. Vernon penalties and a 17-yard Grieser to Rusch pass completion, the Trojans had a 1st-and-10 at the Marauder 18. Grieser tossed a pass to Rusch for the TD from there and Ian Thurlow booted the PAT kick, pulling New Castle to within 40-13 with 9:19 left in the third quarter.

The Marauders responded with a 12-play, 84-yard drive for their seventh touchdown of the game. The big play in the march was a 21-yard Slunaker run. Shipley scored the TD on a six-yard run, Swingle kicked the PAT, and Mt. Vernon led 47-13 with 5:23 left in the third period.

The Trojans came right back with a 75-yard drive for their third touchdown, 65 yards on pass plays and 10 yards on a Marauder penalty.

Dakota Durick caught four Grieser passes totaling 27 yards on the march, and Matney caught a 10-yard pass from Grieser for the TD. Thurlow’s PAT boot pulled the hosts to within 47-20 with 2:39 remaining in the third quarter.

The New Castle defense forced a three-and-out and Mt. Vernon punt on the visitors’ next possession. Taking over at its 14-yard line with 51.6 seconds left in the third period, the Trojans started a 23-play drive (including penalties) that ended with no points and a punt to the Marauder five-yard line at the 7:04 mark of the fourth quarter.

Rylan Cole ran 15 yards to get the ball out to the Mt. Vernon 20. Facing 4th-and-2 at the 28, the Marauders surprised some folks as Rylan Cole took a pitch and went left and down the sideline for a 72-yard touchdown scamper. Swingle’s PAT kick increased the Marauder advantage to 54-20 with 5:12 remaining.

On the ensuing kickoff, a New Castle return man was tackled at the one-yard line putting the Trojans in a deep hole.

Grieser fumbled on a QB keeper on the next play and Mt. Vernon recovered the pigskin. On the next play, Heard carried the ball in for the TD from two yards out and Swingle’s PAT boot gave the Marauders a 61-20 lead with 4:54 left in the contest.

The “Mercy Rule” (running clock) kicked in for the remainder of the game. New Castle generated a pair of first downs on two 24-yard runs by Durick before the clock expired ending the game.

“We let the game get away from us, and then when we pulled closer we allowed that long run for a touchdown on fourth down and fumbled the ball at our two,” York added. “We did some good things tonight, but it still doesn’t take away the loss. Our goal is to strive to be better every day no matter who we play, and be our best at tournament time.”

The Trojans travel to undefeated Class 5A No. 1 New Palestine this coming Friday. Mt. Vernon ventures to Shelbyville that night, which lost 63-0 at New Pal Friday night.

Mt. Vernon (Fortville) 61, New Castle 20

MT. VERNON`19`21`7`14`-61

NEW CASTLE`0`6`14`0`-20

Mt. Vernon – Shipley 5-yard run (kick failed)

Mt. Vernon – R. Cole 24-yard pass from Slunaker (run failed)

Mt. Vernon – LaBelle 8-yard run (Swingle kick)

Mt. Vernon – LaBelle 13-yard run (Swingle kick)

Mt. Vernon – C. Cole 3-yard pass from Slunaker (Swingle kick)

Mt. Vernon – Slunaker 8-yard run (Swingle kick)

New Castle – Ragle 37-yard pass from Grieser (kick failed)

New Castle – Rusch 18-yard pass from Grieser (Thurlow kick)

Mt. Vernon – Shipley 6-yard run (Swingle kick)

New Castle – Matney 10-yard pass from Grieser (Thurlow kick)

Mt. Vernon – R. Cole 72-yard run (Swingle kick)

Mt. Vernon – Heard 2-yard run (Swingle kick)

`MV`NC

First downs`15`22

Rushes/yards`31-252`29-85

Yards passing`212`271

Passes`13-22-0`33-58`1

Punts`5`8

Fumbles lost`1`2

Penalties/yards`15-138`6-48

Individual Leaders

Rushing

Mt. Vernon: R. Cole 14-160, Slunaker 6-52, LaBelle 5-21; New Castle: Grieser 22-51, Durick 3-44.

Passing

Mt. Vernon: Slunaker 13-22-0, 212; New Castle: Grieser 33-58-1, 271.

Receiving

Mt. Vernon; Langston 5-121, R. Cole 4-65; New Castle: Durick 12-74, Matney 9-66, Gabbard 6-36, Rusch 4-51, Ragle 2-44.

Records: Mt. Vernon 5-2, 3-2 HHC; New Castle 2-5, 1-4 HHC.