INDIANAPOLIS – Their journey is over, and it ended in victory formation.
On Saturday night, inside Lucas Oil Stadium, the Class 4A Mt. Vernon Marauders went from a football team few believed capable of to the best group ever in Fortville.
The Marauders scored six offensive touchdowns, added a 59-yard interception return by senior Ashden Gentry and built a 35-point lead for the 11th time this season to beat Northridge, 45-14, in the Championship game. of State IHSAA 4A in Indianapolis.
As the best offense in the state, the Marauder (14-1) maintained his reputation and generated 381 yards behind 50 plays, while the defense thwarted the Raiders (10-5) in the second half to capture the very first. program football status. Title.
Mt. Vernon’s first state finals appearance in program history and a decisive championship victory capped a 14-game winning streak that started on August 27 and ended with a 44th win in four seasons. for the senior class.
“It’s amazing to finally say we won, and now we’re going to celebrate forever,” said Mt. Vernon senior quarterback Gehrig Slunaker. “We can keep this for the rest of our lives. No one can ever take that away from us.
Slunaker was named the recipient of the IHSAA’s Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award in Class 4A football and finished the state championship game with 235 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Five different Marauders recorded offensive touchdowns against the Raiders, with senior running back Keagan La Belle totaling 76 yards on 11 carries and a pair of rushing scores, including the first of the game.
In their first offensive streak, the Marauders covered 55 yards on six games in 2 minutes and 23 seconds to take a 6-0 lead as La Belle broke free for a 24-yard touchdown.
From there, the Marauders never dragged on, building a 20-0 lead after Gentry’s intercept return on the third-and-7s of 46 from Mt. Vernon midway through the second quarter.
The Marauders’ defense knocked out Northridge quarterback Tagg Gott twice, while junior George Burhenn stole the other early in the second quarter with Mt. Vernon in the lead 14-0.
La Belle’s second rushing score highlighted a six-game drive that lasted 58 yards in 1:07 and measured 5 yards, which gave Mt. Vernon a 26-7 halftime lead. .
Slunaker connected with Burhenn for an 11-yard touchdown to increase Mt. Vernon’s 14-0 advantage late in the first quarter, as the Marauders converted two of their first three possessions.
Class 4A Mt Vernon Marauders (14-1) wins the 14th consecutive game and the first football state title in program history. Defeat Northridge 45-14 with five different players scoring touchdowns. QB Gehrig Slunaker named 4A mental attitude award winner, passing for 235 yards, 3 touchdowns @mvmaraudeurs pic.twitter.com/CVG0QqW7Xm
– Rich Torres (@ RichTorres23) November 28, 2021
However, there were a few mishaps for the Marauders, but they never wavered.
Northridge knocked out Slunaker twice in the first half, and a lost fumble from Eli Bridenthal in a rushed attempt late in the first quarter limited the Marauders to 198 yards on total offense.
The Raiders, who were also making their first state final appearance, rushed for 103 yards and had 53 in the first half with 11 first downs.
“They’ve been down in the tournament. They were down at halftime, and we knew they had the ability to come back, and we didn’t want that to happen to us, ”said Slunaker. “We just wanted to finish it the right way.”
The Marauders defense made sure of that and put down Gott and the Raiders in the final 24 minutes.
In the second half, Northridge rushed for 11 negative yards and had 32 yards with just two first downs the rest of the way for 13 overall. The Raiders won the battle for possession time, 28:24 to 7:36, but five Marauders sacks – two by senior defensive tackle Owen Johnson – held Northridge 4 of 17 in the third downs.
“We kept fighting,” said Mt. Vernon head coach Vince Lidy. “What a testimony for Gehrig and these elderly people. They kept coming back, fighting, and I couldn’t be more excited for them.
Slunaker had two more touchdowns in the second period, finding Bridenthal on 44 yards and Gentry on 22 yards.
Senior Travon Hegler pushed the lead to 45-7 with 11:30 left before the Marauders starters were slowly replaced for the majority of the fourth quarter.
Mt. Vernon converted 3 of 4 red zone opportunities, was 5 of 10 on the third down and ran for 167 yards on 31 carries. Slunaker completed 12 of 18 attempted passes, while Hegler finished with 77 yards on eight carries.
Gentry had five receptions for 130 yards with his longest catch covering 43 yards. He had 274 versatile yards with 83 combined as a punt returner and 59 with his interception return.
Bridenthal added 75 yards on four receptions, while Mt. Vernon produced 86 yards after their catches.
“This week has been an amazing week. It’s been a crazy week, ”said Lidy. “I’m really proud of the kids for coming out and doing what we wanted to do at a high level.”
– Rich Torres (@ RichTorres23) November 28, 2021
Coach Lidy has only become the fifth first-year head coach to win a state title and is only part of the third father-son combination to win state football championships. His late father, John Lidy, led Castle to two crown titles in 1982 (3A) and with his son as quarterback and linebacker in 1994 (5A)
The Marauders’ victory secured coach Vince Lidy’s second State Championship – one as a player and as a coach. Mt. Vernon assistant coach Toby Jacobs was a two-time 2A State Champion with the Indianapolis Scecina Memorial as a player in 1990 and 1991.
Lidy and Jacobs were both on staff at Hamilton Southeastern in 2005 when the 5A Royals were the state runners-up at Warren Central.
This time, they finished the job with countless Marauder supporters crammed into the lower seating sections behind the Mount Vernon Bench.
The crowd roared proudly as the Marauders’ offensive starters retook the field for the game’s final at 1:23, and Slunaker knelt the ball twice on his 43s to end the game.
“Our kids are joking about it now, it’s their favorite training, like their coach, I guess,” Lidy said. “It was good to see them there, one last time, so they could get out of the field and see the community supporting them. It’s just really special.
Read Tuesday’s edition of the Daily Reporter for more information on winning the Mt. Vernon Class 4A State Football Championship.
IHSAA Class 4A Football State Finals
Mont Vernon 45, Northridge 14
Mount Vernon (14-1); 14; 12; 12; 7; -; 45
Northridge (10-5); 0; 7; 0; 7; -; 14
MV – Keagan La Belle 24 run (missed kick), 9:37
MV – George Burhenn 11 assist from Gehrig Slunaker (race 2 points), 4:35
MV – Ashden Gentry 59 INT return (failed kick), 8:06
N – Jethro Hochstetler 23 assist from Tagg Gott (kick from Dylan Ritchie), 1:39
MV – La Belle 5 run (2pt failed), 0:26
MV – Eli Bridenthal 44 pass from Slunaker (missed kick), 10:29
MV – Gentry 22 assist from Slunaker (2 failed points), 2:23
MV – Travon Hegler 54 run (Ethan Yeley kick), 11:30
N – Peyton Shook 45m return INT (Ritchie kick), 8:38