MOUNT VERNON — With two seconds left, Mount Vernon’s Paul Ryan rushed into the end zone on Sept. 7 on a hook-and-ladder play to beat the West Delaware Hawks, 35-33. Video of the play by Andrew Sherry, posted by Coach Preston Pedersen, racked up more than 3,000 views on Twitter.
But three days later, the staff realized a mistake had been made. A player participated in both the freshman-sophomore game and the varsity game for more than five quarters, which violated the rules of the Iowa High School Athletic Association.
The Sept. 7 game was recorded as a 2-0 loss to West Delaware, by forfeit.
The Mount Vernon staff chose to handle the situation honestly by reporting the violation. An email from activities director Matt Thede sent to the district quoted a statement from Coach Lance Pedersen noting, “While this may change the result of the game in the record books, it absolutely does not change what our players accomplished this past Friday night. They showed a tremendous amount of heart and toughness and pulled off an unbelievable and improbable finish. We will use this situation as a lesson for not only our coaching staff, but also our players, that there is never a wrong time to do the right thing, even when the results don’t benefit us. Our football program strives to do things the right way and we will continue to do so.”
Thede received a positive reaction from the Mount Vernon community, posting on Twitter, “What started out as a day with an unsettled stomach and uncertain actions turned into a day filled with peace and comfort ... why? Because we have such great kids, coaches, comm. members, and parents who recognize the right thing — even when it’s the difficult thing to do. Thank U!”
The players also took the mistake in stride.
“Even though the game was reversed to a loss, I still think we made a lot of growth as a team and I think these early season challenges will help prepare us come district play,” said senior wide receiver Mitchell Louwagie.
The Mustangs were aiming for their first win on that night. After two games of finding their groove, they figured it out, just in time.
“Coach Pedersen told us that everyone needs to do their job, and if everyone does their job, we will be successful at the end of the night,” said Aydan Holub-Schultz, a junior defensive tackle.
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Mount Vernon was able to notch that first win last Friday, taking down Maquoketa, 42-7. The Mustangs (1-3) open district play this Friday at West Liberty (1-3).