Mt’neers KO Fighting Irish; Final Four bound, again

Steve Chapman

Mt. Vernon senior Will Boswell spent most of the game gaining yards on the ground, including two touchdowns against the Catholic defense. (Photos by Ryan Squibb)


In a hard-fought game, the Mt. Vernon Mt’neers defeated the Springfield Catholic Fighting Irish, 26-18, to win the state championship quarterfinal game on Saturday, Nov. 17, in Mt’neer Stadium. The team now moves to the state championship semifinals.
The offense began with Catholic kicking a field goal in the early going to put the first points on the board.
The Mt’neers answered on their third offensive drive when Mt. Vernon senior Will Boswell capped off a long march down the field, running the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. Quarterback Zach Jones completed a pass to Cale Miller to gain a successful two-point conversion, making the score 8-3.
Catholic regained the lead in the second quarter with a touchdown, followed up with a successful two-point conversion. However, that lead didn’t last long.
On the next possession, Jones found senior Kelly Vaughn for a reception, who then ran the ball into the end zone from the 20. A two-point conversion failed, giving the Mt’neers a narrow 14-11 lead.
After halftime, Catholic took the lead again early in third quarter with another touchdown, followed up with a PAT to make the score 18-14. They would also intercept the ball from the Mt’neers during their next offensive drive, only to be forced to punt on downs afterwards.
Then, Catholic made a touchback punt, putting the Mt’neers on their own 20- yard line. They advanced 27 yards in five plays, and then Jones handed off the ball to Carson Bowman, who ran it 53 yards unscathed into the end zone to gain the teams third touchdown of the day. An attempt at a two-point conversion was blocked, leaving the Mt’neers in the lead, 20-18.
 Going into fourth quarter, Jones completed a pass to Vaughn to advance the team to the Mt’neers’ 41. He then handed the ball off to Boswell, who ran the ball 59 yards to gain the Mt’neers’ fourth touchdown of the game; an attempt at a two-point conversion was blocked, giving Mt. Vernon a 26-18 lead.
Although Catholic neared the end zone for another score in the final three minutes, the fired up Mt. Vernon defense shut them out on a fourth down and took possession.
With neither team scoring the rest of the way, the game ended a Mt’neer victory, 26-18.
After the game, Mt. Vernon head coach Tom Cox credited his team’s strong work ethic with winning the game.
“I could not be prouder of these guys,” he said. “Just the work that they have put in this last week, with the snow on Monday, and the frozen snow on Tuesday, they just never complained one time. They just got to work … and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Cox also said they adjusted their game to counter Catholic’s strategy.
“Our motto has been, ‘Stay the course,’” he said. “And, we felt like with the … coverage they were giving us, we had to throw the ball. They were putting seven guys up in the box area in the line of scrimmage, which is making it tough to run inside. So, we were able to get our outside running game going, and then we were able to get our counter going, so that really helped out. But, to be able to throw the ball like we did, it was really, really special for us.”
Vaughn said he also felt the team did well.
“We all played good on both sides of the fence, and defense played extraordinarily well,” he said. “Zach Jones just put the ball where he needed to, and Will (Boswell) was just running wherever he wanted to. It just felt really good to beat them twice in one year.”
Vaughn also credited the coaches with the team’s victory.
“The coaches are really good at helping us prepare, and that’s what puts us on top,” he said.
During the game, when Boswell had the ball, he was a definite target for the Catholic defense. He said he didn’t mind.
“It makes it fun,” he said. “Gets me ready for college.”
The Mt’neers will return to Mt’neer Stadium at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24, where they will host the Cardinal Ritter Lions from St. Louis. Jones said he is confident the Mt’neers will come away with another victory in that game.
“If we do our job, we’ll be just fine,” he said. “It’s just assignment football for us.”


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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