WEST LIBERTY – West Liberty was gunning to knock off a highly-ranked opponent.
But, Mount Vernon dodged a bullet that previously top-ranked Williamsburg couldn’t a week earlier.
Class 2A second-ranked Mount Vernon overcame a 20-point deficit and held West Liberty scoreless in the second half for a 34-27 District 4 victory Friday night at Memorial Field at Kimberly Park.
Drew Adams connected on a 41-yard touchdown pass to Cale Snedden for the winning score with 11:10 left in the game. It was the exclamation of a turnaround half for the Mustangs that saw them score three TDs and erase a 27-14 deficit after halftime.
The Mustangs started to click offensively, increasing the tempo. Adams threw for 177 yards and three touchdowns, hitting a wide open Matt Gearhart on a post pattern to tie the score, 27-27, with 3:13 to go in the third.
Mount Vernon (7-1, 6-0) was effective running the ball in the second half. Paul Ryan rushed for 193 yards and a 1-yard TD in the third that pulled the Mustangs within a score.
Snedden was a rare bright light for Mount Vernon in a first half dominated by West Liberty (5-3, 4-2).
He returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a TD, giving the Mustangs a 7-0 lead just 15 seconds into the game. He also reeled in a 13-yard TD pass from Adams with 40 seconds left before halftime. Zach Baker led Mount Vernon with 92 receiving yards and added 31 on the ground.
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The Comets controlled most of the first half thanks to the legs of Joe Kelly. He ran roughshod over the Mustangs in the first half, including 153 yards before the break and finishing with 183.
Kelly put the Comets on the board, taking the handoff on 4th-and-1 and ran 30 yards for a TD with 3:27 left in the first quarter. His 70-yard dash off left tackle gave West Liberty a 14-7 lead with 9:48 left in the second quarter. He added a 5-yard TD run in the second quarter.
The Comets capitalized on a little luck as well. West Liberty quarterback Seth Feldman threw a dart of a pass that went through a receiver’s hands and then tipped by a Mustang defender. The ball landed in the hands of Justis Dengler, who juggled it and reeled it in before running 70 yards inside the Mount Vernon 5.
West Liberty converted on another 4th-and-1, scoring on Feldman’s 1-yard QB sneak.
West Liberty suffered a bigger loss. Senior defensive back Nathan Schemmel suffered a broken leg during the first half. He was placed in an immobilizer and carted off on a stretcher.
Mount Vernon can clinch the district title next week with a win over Williamsburg. If the Mustangs beat the Raiders and West Liberty beats Camanche, the Comets will earn the second playoff berth in the district.
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