LONGVIEW, Texas – Six Mount Vernon turnovers spelled self-destruction for the Tigers Thursday night at Pine Tree’s Pirate Stadium, helping Atlanta advance to the Region II-3A Division I championship game with a lopsided 38-14 win.
Ironically, it was the Tigers scoring first after intercepting a pass on Atlanta’s third play from scrimmage. Mount Vernon led 14-13 at intermission, but it all fell apart for the Tigers early in the third quarter.
”Coming into the game we knew Mount Vernon had turned the ball over a lot this season; we were hoping for more of the same, but we did cause some of them,” said Atlanta coach Matt McClure. “We ran the ball well in the second half, and that was also a key. The last two games we’ve come out in the second half and really got physical. Defensively, say what you want, but we shut them down pretty good.”
Sophomore Keyshawn Easter recovered a Tiger fumble less than two minutes into the second half, and it wasn’t long before senior Jawan King broke free on a 36-yard touchdown jaunt.
Mount Vernon’s third fumble of the third quarter was recovered by Easter at his own 33. Sophomore Caleb Hamilton danced 61 yards on the next play to the Tigers’ 6. King scored with 16 seconds left in the quarter to make it 26-14.
J.J. Fields set up Atlanta’s next score with an interception. On fourth-and-1 at the Tigers’ 28, quarterback Andrew Samples broke free for 24 yards on a sneak. Samples scored the second of his three touchdowns two plays later on another sneak from the 1 with 6:50 left in the game.
A fumble recovery by Kade Wood set up another 1-yard sneak by Samples with 5:02 remaining.
Sophomore Hamilton leads Rabbs on the ground
Hamilton led the Rabbs’ ground game with 139 yards on 10 carries. King had 100 yards on 10 carries, with Atlanta finishing with 200 of its 283 rushing yards in the second half. Samples completed 9 of 16 passes for 132 yards, only seven in the final two quarters.
Joshua Edwards hauled in a 42-yard scoring strike from Samples in the second quarter.
”I know we had some turnovers, and missed some tackles, but I’m really proud of our play,” said McClure. Getting to the fourth round for the third time in five years is really good. I keep telling everyone we’re young this season. We dressed out 52 kids and only have 13 seniors. I think we keep getting better because our young players are getting better.”
Mount Vernon (9-4), scored on a 1-yard plunge by quarterback Kason Pletcher with 8:22 left in the first quarter. Pletcher found Dalton Decker running alone for a 42-yard touchdown pass in the opening seconds of the second quarter.
The Rabbs could be facing a rematch with Gladewater next week if the Bears can