MT. VERNON, IND. – Sam Thomas did not score eight touchdowns against Mt. Carmel on Friday night as he had done one week earlier against North Posey.
But, the two TD’s he did score, plus the one he delivered through the air, were good enough for Mt. Vernon in a 41-12 victory In the Big 8 Conference opener for both clubs.
And, in case anyone viewed holding Thomas at bay a victory of sorts by the Golden Aces defense - even a moral one - head coach Michael Brewer wasn’t buying it.
“Definitely not a victory,” he said after the game. “They beat us all over the field, no matter where (Thomas) was on the field. It wasn’t him, so no.”
But, the Aces defensive unit was tacking up some small wins of its own, stopping Mt. Vernon twice inside the red zone and holding the deficit to 14-6 well into the third quarter. That's before the wheels came off during a five-minute stretch covering parts of the third and fourth quarters. Mt. Vernon (2-1, 1-0 in the Big 8) scored three straight times to increase its lead to 34-6
“It kind of got away from us there,” Brewer said of the decisive stretch.
After the Aces offense had stalled at the Mt. Vernon 13-yerd line, the Wildcats marshalled together an 87-yard scoring drive in response, which Thomas finished with a 27-yard catch-and-run with 2:23 left in the third quarter, to increase the lead to 21-6.
The Wildcats got the ball right back at their own 48 after Mt. Carmel failed to convert a fourth-down run, and made short work of it. On the next play, Thomas threw a halfback pass to Zachary Batteiger with 12 seconds left in the frame to make it 28-6.
Thomas then picked off Mt. Carmel quarterback Kaleb Applebey’s fourth-down pass on the ensuing drive to give the Wildcats possession at the Aces 47. Three plays later, the knockout punch was delivered by quarterback Rhett Snodgrass, who fired a 23-yard TD pass down the middle to Bronson Quinzer with 9:34 left in the game.
A 68-yard pick-6 for Ben Varner less than three minutes later completed the scoring in Mt. Vernon’s fourth victory over the Aces in the 18-year history of the series.
Snodgrass, a 6-foot, 200-pound junior, sizzled through the air, completing 18-of-20 passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target was Breckan Austin, who caught 10 passes, one for a score. Thomas hauled in six.
Mt. Carmel’s offense, though producing a respectable total of 312 yards, including 162 on the ground (which topped Mt. Vernon’s ground total of 150), had trouble putting enough sequences together to score more than one touchdown prior to a late-game tally.
“We’ve struggled for two weeks now on offense,” Brewer said. “We’ve got to get that part figured out.”
The Aces scored early in the second quarter on a 37-yard pass from Applebey to Austin Rager to cut the deficit to 7-6, then didn’t score again until 34 Mt. Vernon points later, when sophomore Isaiah Appleton finished the scoring with a seven-yard run.
Mt. Carmel (1-1, 0-1) opens the home season on Friday night against Princeton (2-1, 1-0), which defeated Washington, 36-14, in its league opener.