Rams rout Althoff for best start since 2013

Chris Hugo

MT. VERNON – The Mt. Vernon Rams are off to their first 3-1 start since 2013 after using an early second half surge to defeat Althoff 68-41 in the Crusaders’ final South Seven visit to Ken Hunt Stadium.

Navontae Nesbit got the Rams on the board first just 1:18 into the game, running in a 26-yard score to give Mt. Vernon a 7-0 lead. The Crusaders struck back quickly on the following drive with Antwan Strong’s 14-yard TD to pull Althoff within 7-6.

Ethan Rivera had a monster game on both sides of the ball for the Rams with multiple tackles for losses as well as rushing 17 times for 252 yards and scoring five touchdowns. Rivera’s first score came on the very first play from scrimmage on the Rams’ second drive–a 60-yard TD run extending Mt. Vernon’s lead to 13-6.

Althoff’s passing game just did enough to keep the Crusaders in the game as Braylon Grayson connected with five different receivers going 14-21 for 282 yards and four touchdowns. The first of those came on a 12-yard strike to Andrew Lyke with 3:44 left in the first pulling Althoff back within 13-12.

Cue Rivera on the second play from scrimmage after the kickoff pinned the Rams back deep. His 81-yard run extended the Rams’ advantage to 20-12 following a 2-point conversion.

The second verse was almost the same as the first with more offense as a Grayson keeper and subsequent 2-point conversion tied the game at 20 with 6:17 left in the half. The teams would trade scores on their next drives with Anthony Lash running one in from 46 yards and Lyke grabbing another 46-yard catch for a 27-27 tie with 2:33 remaining in the half.

Lash ran the next kickoff back 62 yards which set up a Fischer Davis 32-yard run, putting the Rams up 34-27. Mt. Vernon then made a big defensive stop which set up Rivera’s third score of the half. The 7-yard touchdown gave the Rams a 40-27 lead at the half.

After Althoff’s offense stalled to open the second half, Rivera ran 11-yards for his fourth TD at the 6:35 mark, giving the Rams some breathing room at 47-27. On the following Crusader drive, Jhymear Smith-Henson intercepted a Grayson pass, setting up the Rivera’s fifth and final score. This one was a 9-yard score putting the Rams up 54-27 late in the third.

Another Rams’ interception would set up the offense yet again heading into the fourth quarter as Lash took a perfect angle on a Grayson pass. Then 14 seconds into the quarter, Rams’ quarterback Peyton McMillen connected with Karey Richardson over the middle for a touchdown to put the Rams up 61-27.

After the Crusaders rattled off 14 straight points, Davis capped the scoring with a 45-yard TD run with 4:32 left in the game for what would become a 68-41 final.

Davis was busy, making 8-9 point after kicks.

The Mt. Vernon Rams and their fans gather on the field after a 68-41 win over Althoff.

Next up for Mt. Vernon is a visit to Marion Friday. The Rams and Wildcats have identical 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the South Seven Conference records. You can listen to the game on WMIX-AM 940 & 96.5 FM or watch live on the Section618.com Mobile App.

Althoff falls to 2-2, 0-1 and will visit Centralia (3-1, 1-0) Friday. That game can be heard on 95.3 X95 as well as the Section618 App.