Cole Pauley

Lexington quarterback Cole Pauley throws on the run as Mount Vernon's Easton Groom chases him during Saturday's Ohio Cardinal Conference game at Lexington.

LEXINGTON — Not even his state-mandated facial covering could hide the smile on Mount Vernon coach Mike Kerr’s face.

The Yellow Jackets had just put the finishing touches on a 14-0 season-opening victory that took two days to complete and judging by the spark in his eyes, Kerr couldn’t have been happier.

The shutout was the first against an Ohio Cardinal Conference opponent since the Yellow Jackets (1-0) joined the conference in the fall of 2016.

“It is hard to shut a team out,” said Kerr, who led the Jackets to their first winning season since 2013 last fall. “I told our guys that was the smartest defense we’ve played as far as understanding situations and formations. I was proud of their recognition and their effort was outstanding.”

Mount Vernon took a 6-0 lead Friday night when first-year starting quarterback Britten Long tossed a screen pass to Gavin Moyer, who weaved through the Lexington defense for a 21-yard touchdown with 6:33 remaining in the first quarter. Less than five minutes later, a powerful storm blasted through southern Richland County, eventually forcing the postponement of the game until Saturday.

When the teams reconvened, the Mount Vernon defense took center stage. Lexington drove deep into Yellow Jackets’ territory late in the first quarter but turned the ball over on downs at the Mount Vernon 22-yard line with 3:44 remaining in the half.

The Yellow Jackets struck just 18 seconds before halftime when Long again hooked up with Moyer on a 24-yard scoring strike and A.J Keen’s two-point conversion run made it 14-0. One play before the TD, Lex was flagged for a costly late-hit penalty on third-and-long that prolonged the drive.

“That score kind of takes the wind out of your sails a little bit,” Lexington coach Tim Scheid said. “You know you’ve got to climb back from two scores and when the offense isn’t getting you anything, a two-score game looks like a big obstacle to overcome.”

Lexington gave itself a chance early in the third when Jordan Beireis picked off a pass at the Mount Vernon 34. The Yellow Jackets answered again, however, forcing a turnover on downs on fourth-and-four.

The Minutemen missed a 34-yard field goal attempt late in the third quarter and saw their final scoring opportunity end when Zach Thomas picked off a Cole Pauley pass near the goal line and return it 30 yards with 4:15 remaining in the game.

“Zach is a junior, but he is a first-year player with us,” Kerr said. “He’s come a long way and done a great job and the other kids have supported him.”

Mount Vernon returns to action next week at Ashland (1-0). Lex (0-1) hosts Wooster (1-0).

“There’s not one thing I can put my finger on offensively,” Scheid said. “One mistake can derail a play. Ten guys can perform it perfectly, but one mistake can shut it down.”

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.

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