MOUNT VERNON — The fired up Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets’ defense kept a lid on the West Holmes Knights’ spread offense in the first half, only allowing a field goal. The Knights, however, finally broke through in the second half to defeat the host Jackets, 23-0, in Friday’s Ohio Cardinal Conference regular season finale at Yellow Jackets’ Stadium.
The Jackets’ defense stuffed the middle up front, while the secondary kept West Holmes’ receivers from breaking a big play for most of the night. At halftime, West Holmes’ West Coast offense led the Jackets by a score of only 3-0 on a Nate Ginsburg 35-yard field goal with a little over two minutes remaining in the first half. This just one week after the Knights’ offense, led by quarterback Bridger Cline’s 435 yards and seven TD passes, hung 56 points on Ashland.
This week the Jackets’ defense held Cline to 153 passing yards (13-for-21) and a pair of touchdown passes. Meanwhile, Mount Vernon’s defensive line gave West Ogi little room to move most of the evening. He finished with 122 yards and a single, third quarter touchdown, after carrying the ball 37 times in the game.
“We knew (West Holmes) averages about 40 points a game, so I very proud of our defense,” said Mount Vernon middle linebacker Harry Ogle. “Our offense was driving, but we just couldn’t finish those drives, but I’ll never forget this game or this season. I’m really proud of my team.”
Ogle and his mates on defense allowed only a pair of West Holmes passes for more than 20 yards.
“We always talk about leaving it out on the field,” said Mount Vernon coach Mike Kerr. “You see that with Harry. His intensity is just unmatched and he played just all heart tonight. He hurt his shoulder early on, but you would never know it.”
The Jackets’ offense struggled, gaining 84 yards. Mount Vernon’s Wyatt Gregory had 35 rushing yards on 10 carries to lead the Jackets. Ashton Fisher was back for Mount Vernon, but not 100 percent, only running the ball five times for 16 yards.
With the ball in Mount Vernon’s half of the field most of the second half, Cline eventually found teammates Braden Allen and Shane Jones with fourth-quarter touchdown passes. Jones finished the game with eight receptions for 106 yards. The one touchdown pass he got was for 28 yards — his longest of the night.
At the end of the game, there was a wistful moment as Ogle, a senior, removed his Yellow Jackets helmet for the last time and looked down at it for a moment or two. After getting hugs from his teammates, he tried to find the right words to describe his feelings.
“It still hasn’t sunk in,” Ogle said. “I’ve been playing football since I could remember and this is my last game, so it’s hard.”
It remains to be seen if the Knights (8-2, 4-2 OCC), who are battling for a OHSAA playoff spot in Region 9, will play another game this season. The irony is that, although the Knights won, the Jackets’ impressive showing on defense may have had an effect on West Holmes’ playoff hopes. The final computer rankings will be tallied Sunday.