Wyatt Gregory

Mount Vernon senior Wyatt Gregory celebrates after scoring the game-winning touchdown vs. Lexington on Friday night. The Yellow Jackets beat the Minutemen 26-21. (more photos at kristiallenphotography.smugmug.com)

MOUNT VERNON – Mount Vernon held off Lexington 26-21 on Friday night to clinch its first 4-0 start since 2015.

Much like the Yellow Jackets’ last home game, a one-point win over Marion Harding, this game featured its fair share of drama.

The Yellow Jackets took a 26-21 lead with 3:12 remaining on a 7-yard touchdown dash from senior Wyatt Gregory. But the Minutemen stormed right back, marching down the field and into Mount Vernon territory.

With Lexington threatening, the Yellow Jackets needed a clutch stop. Senior Alex Mullins made it happen.

“They ran a double pass that was wide open, and our free safety came back and made the interception,” Mount Vernon head coach Mike Kerr said. “It was an exciting game, an exciting play, and I’m just super proud of these kids.”

Mullins’ interception at the Mount Vernon 25-yard-line with 1:30 remaining sealed the deal. Just a month into the 2019 season, Mount Vernon has already surpassed its win total from a year ago.

“It’s exciting. It’s fun,” Kerr said. “We’ve got a great group of kids … they just deserve it.”

Neither Mount Vernon (4-0, 1-0 OCC) nor Lexington (1-3, 0-1) could find the end zone early. After a scoreless first quarter, Lexington struck first on a 20-yard Kaydan Berry touchdown run in the second period. Mount Vernon responded with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Trey Davidson to Cory Berg to make it 7-6 Minutemen heading into halftime.

Despite his team’s offensive struggles in the first half, Kerr said Gregory and the offensive line stayed patient. It paid off midway through the third quarter, when Gregory was able to punch in a touchdown from 3 yards out, giving Mount Vernon its first lead of the night. Lexington’s Berry scored once more from 5 yards out to make it 15-12 Minutemen heading into the fourth quarter.

The game’s final stanza was a back-and-forth slugfest.

Davidson found Easton Groom for a 7-yard touchdown pass early on, making it 20-15 Mount Vernon. Then Lexington fired back with a 3-yard scoring scamper from Karson Berry, which made it 21-20 in favor of the visitors.

The Mount Vernon offense launched its biggest drive of the season, powering down to the Lexington 7-yard-line before calling a timeout on fourth-and-goal.

With just over three minutes remaining, Kerr originally planned on kicking a field goal. This would have put the Jackets up two. But Gregory and the offensive line convinced him in the huddle to change his mind and go for it on fourth down. The call – as gutsy as it gets with the game on the line – paid off.

“They said, ‘Hey, let’s just get this one,’” Kerr recalled. “So we ran the ball and Wyatt broke a couple tackles and got into end zone.”

And the rest was history. Kerr said beating Lexington felt like clearing a mental hurdle for his team.

“I think it was big ... to be able to get this first conference win in this way,” he said. “I think it really meant a lot to our kids.”

Mount Vernon will host Ashland (0-4) next week, another team the Yellow Jackets lost to by double digits last season. The Arrows, albeit winless, scored 35 points Friday in a close loss to undefeated Sandusky. Kerr said his team will need to stay true to its motto heading into next week's game: “Win today.”

“Our message has been the same since day one,” Kerr said. “We can’t take one game for granted. We’ve got to win each day. We’ve got to handle that success. They’re going to come in ready to win, so we’ve gotta have a great week of practice and I think our kids want to do that.”

For now, however, the Yellow Jackets will enjoy this one. 4-0? After winning just three games the year before? Not a shabby start, Kerr will admit.

“I’m ecstatic right now,” the fourth-year coach said. “It’s a great feeling.”

OCC SCOREBOARD:

  • Mansfield Senior 42 West Holmes 7
  • Mount Vernon 26 Lexington 21
  • Wooster 54 Madison Comprehensive 21
  • Sandusky 46 Ashland 35

OCC STANDINGS:

1. Mansfield Senior (1-0, 4-0)

1. Mount Vernon (1-0, 4-0)

1. Wooster (1-0, 1-3)

4. Lexington (0-1, 1-3)

4. West Holmes (0-1, 1-3)

4. Madison Comprehensive (0-1, 0-4)

7. Ashland (0-0, 0-4)

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