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MOUNT VERNON — Trailing late in the fourth quarter, Mount Vernon put the ball in its playmaker’s hands.

And Wyatt Gregory delivered.

The senior running back had 84 of his 218 yards in the final drive, scoring on a 7-yard touchdown run with three minutes left Friday to help Mount Vernon escape with a 26-21 Ohio Cardinal Conference victory over visiting Lexington.

“This was a huge win for us. To me, Lexington is a big rival,” Gregory said as his team improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2015.

But, even with Gregory’s big night, it was up to the defense to be the real hero.

After Gregory’s score, Lexington started moving down the field and it looked like they had time to pull off the upset. With the ball near midfield, the Minutemen (1-3 overall, 0-1 OCC) dug into its bag of tricks, trying a double pass. What looked like a wide-open receiver and a sure touchdown for Lex turned into an interception when Alex Mullins flew over from midfield and intercepted the pass.

“We talked all week about how they were going to run a trick play. We didn’t know when, but we knew they were going to,” said Mount Vernon coach Mike Kerr. “Alex played disciplined. What a catch.

“The kids kept bailing us out. When it came crunch time, the kids made the big plays. I’m so happy. What a way to end it.”

The final quarter was wild throughout, as the teams traded touchdowns. Mount Vernon (4-0, 1-0) got the first one on a bit of a trick play of its own, as defensive end Easton Groom lined up at tight end and caught an 8-yard pass from Trey Davidson that made it 20-15 MV.

The Minutemen answered right back, scoring just four minutes later on a 3-yard run from Karson Berry. That set up Gregory and the final scoring drive.

The MV senior broke off runs of 31 and 27 in the drive, as well as the 7-yarder for the score.

“In the first half, we were going with our buck sweep and they (Lexington) were overloading the outside. The coaches told me the cutback was open,” Gregory said. “We started hitting it out of the blue. They got tired and things started opening up on the backside. Our blocking was amazing. They (the line) really picked it up.”

“They (Lexington) did a great job stopping the buck sweep early. That’s our bread-and-butter play,” Kerr said. “But, we knew if we gave the offensive line the time, their physicality was going to win out. We believe in our offensive line and Wyatt is such a great running back. We knew the line would pave the way.”

The night started with both teams moving the ball, but never able to dent the scoreboard. Both teams had it deep in the other’s territory, but weren’t able to score until Lexington did at the seven-minute mark of the second quarter. Kayden Berry struck paydirt on a scamper up the middle for 19 yards and the Minutemen led 7-0.

The Jackets responded with some solid runs from Davidson, who then scored on a 1-yard jaunt. The two-point conversion attempt failed and the teams headed to the locker room with Lex up 7-6.

MV took the lead on the opening drive of the third quarter, scoring when Gregory ran it in from three yards out.

Lex responded with a 6-yard TD by Berry to retake the lead and set up the wild fourth quarter.

Gregory finished the night with 218 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns to lead the Jackets. Davidson ran for 85 yards and passed for another 90 on 6 of 10 passing. Gavin Moyer caught three of those passes for 34 yards, while Cory Berg caught one for 37.

The Minutemen were led by Kayden Berry, who rushed for 84 yards, and Keith Thomas, who added 78. Cole Pauley completed 7 of 11 passes for 119 yards.

The Jackets will play host to Ashland next Friday at 7 p.m.

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Fred Main: 740-397-5333 or fmain@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @http://twitter.com/mountvernonnews