Raiders win big, defeat Mount Vernon 42-10October 23, 2020
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
MOUNT VERNON — Eager to make immediate impacts during Friday evening’s Sectional 32 contest against Mount Vernon, Southridge (10-0) seniors Camden Gasser and Matt Springer racked up two first-quarter touchdowns for the Raiders. Gasser’s pick-six and Springer’s one-yard touchdown run established the foundation for Southridge’s 42-10 victory over the Wildcats — no matter the circumstances, the Raiders overcame adversity.
“In the first tournament game, you’re trying to break the ice a little bit,” Southridge head coach Scott Buening said. “To come out right away and get those first two scores was big. It gave us a little bit of a cushion. I’ve got to give Mount Vernon a lot of credit.”
Mount Vernon freshman quarterback Nicot Burnett did not hesitate during the early stages of the game. Although Burnett yearned to create some big plays, Gasser and fellow Southridge senior defensive back Kaleb Wibbeler snagged two deep balls. At the end of the first frame, the Raiders held a 14-0 lead.
Mount Vernon struck back in the second quarter. Wildcats senior kicker Xavier Angel provided a boost with a textbook 37-yard field goal at the 4:35 mark in the quarter.
On Mount Vernon’s next possession, Burnett bounced to the outside and punched in a 13-yard keeper with 3:16 left in the half.
Southridge fumbled the ball in Mount Vernon’s red zone, but the Wildcats did not capitalize on their next opportunity to score. At halftime, the Raiders clung to a 14-10 advantage.
The lead quickly grew to 21-10. Not satisfied with just one interception, Gasser reached over his back shoulder and hauled in another pick. After Southridge marched down the field, Springer added another one-yard rushing touchdown with 6:57 remaining in the quarter.
“If you want a chance at a special season, you’ve got to have guys who can just go out and make plays,” Buening said. “(Gasser) did, and we’re thankful for it.”
The Raiders gained more momentum after recovering the ensuing kickoff in Wildcats territory. Southridge senior quarterback Chase Taylor found a seam and zipped through the teeth of Mount Vernon’s defense for a 20-yard rushing touchdown.
With 6:09 to play in the quarter, the Raiders claimed a 28-10 lead.
“We do pooch the ball,” Buening said. “Our kicker, (senior) Jaylon (Leon), is really good at it. We try to use that to our advantage. We’re not necessarily trying to recover the kick or anything like that. It’s just worked out in our favor. That’s just a product of effort, our kids busting their butts and getting down the field.”
Southridge’s stout defense held firm. At the 1:10 mark of the period, Springer dashed across the goal line for a 10-yard touchdown. His third score gave the Raiders ample breathing room.
Mount Vernon executed a successful fake punt to open the fourth quarter. Unwilling to allow any more trickery, Southridge subsequently stifled the Wildcats’ offense and took control of the pigskin.
Gasser’s nine-yard touchdown run added more insurance with 8:58 remaining in the game. Several defensive stands clinched Southridge’s win over Wildcats head coach Luke Messmer, who previously served as an assistant coach for the Raiders.
“He is a great friend of mine,” Buening said of Messmer. “He’s somebody who I respect tremendously. He’s going to do a great job in this profession. I hate that one of us was going to go home tonight. They’ve got a good football team over there. They’ve improved tremendously from last year. Aside from that, we’re certainly glad to get that win. He’s going to do great things over there — that program is going in the right direction.”
Southridge will return at 7 p.m. Oct. 30. The Raiders will face Gibson Southern, who defeated Heritage Hills in a 21-10 contest.
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