Mt. Vernon keeps playoff hopes alive at Centralia


Combined Staff Report,

Centralia — The Mt. Vernon Rams knew they had to leave Centralia’s Evers Field with a win on Friday night to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Orphans knew they could play spoiler on rivalry night and dim the lights on the Rams’ chances, but ultimately the Rams would win 70-41.

Mylan Nettles started the scoring spree for both teams when he rushed for a 23-yard touchdown with 6:27 left in the first quarter. After Centralia’s first drive stalled and a fourth down rush by Keaton Morgan turned the ball over on downs, the Rams would turn to Navontae Nesbit, Jr., for a 4-yard TD run to close out the quarter 14-0.

The Orphans’ Daryl Jones would quickly find Xavier Koch for a 45-yard touchdown pass to open the second quarter and trimming the deficit to 14-7. The Rams responded quickly with Malakai Mays hooking up with Nettles for a 34-yard TD pass and extending the lead to 21-7.

Mt. Vernon came up with another stop after a 5-yard catch by Morgan came up short on a 4th and 17 and took over on downs. Then Nesbit would fumble after a five yard gain and the Orphans recovered. Moments later, Jones dialed up Koch again for a 17-yard TD catch to make it a one score game at 21-13 after the Rams blocked the Halut point after attempt.

The next Mt. Vernon Drive saw Mays leave defenders behind for a 20-yard run and stretch the lead back out to 28-13 with 3:56 remaining before halftime.

An Orphan fumble recovered by the Rams’ Aiden Weems help setup another Mays score–this time from 30-yards out and extending the lead to 35-13.

After another Centralia drive stalled, the Rams called a timeout with just over one minute to go just before an Orphans punt to the Mt. Vernon 42. A broken play saw Mays rushing left before connecting with Nettles again for a 58-yard touchdown with 42.1 seconds remaining and leaving fans thinking the Rams would take a 42-13 lead into the locker room.

The Orphans got a long kickoff return to setup premium field position in Mt. Vernon territory and Jones found Koch for a third TD pass from the 17-yard line and Jones added a two-point conversion run. Centralia cut the Rams lead to 42-21 and was set to receive the second half kickoff.

It didn’t take long for the Orphans to capitalize on their halftime momentum when Jones hit Cam Tomlianovich for a 51-yard touchdown. Halut’s kick was blocked so Centralia settled for a 42-27 score just two minutes into the second half.

Following the kickoff, it took Nesbit less than 10 seconds to avenge the touchdown when he ran 48-yards to give the Rams a 49-27 lead with 9:57 left in the 3rd quarter.

The Orphans next drive stalled, but another Mt. Vernon fumble was recovered by Jaylin Hoskins who returned to the Mt. Vernon 44-yard line. This drive stalled and Colter Pokojski sacked Jones for a turnover on downs with 5:55 left in the 3rd.  The Orphans defense stepped up again and forced the Rams to punt which landed in the end zone for a touchback.

The very next play saw Jones find Tomlianovich for an 80-yard touchdown pass and a Morgan two-point run to get back within a couple of scores at 49-35 with 3:55 left in the 3rd. That’s as close as the game would get after Jones left the game with an apparent injury.

Nesbit would add three more rushing TDs (35, 7, 26) and help push the Rams over the 70-point mark while the Orphans would add a touchdown by Will Stanton late in the fourth for the final score of 70-41.

Nesbit carried the ball 23 times for over 200 yards and 5 TDs and has approximately 1,200 rushing yards this season. Mays had just under 150 passing yards and 2 TDs while adding 2 more scores on approximately 70 rushing yards. Nettles over 100 yards receiving with 2 TDs and a rushing TD. Jashawn Staples had 2 sacks for Mt. Vernon

Jones was 12/22 for 270 yards and 5 touchdowns for Centralia. Tomlianovich had 2 receptions for 130 yards and 2 TDs. Koch had 7 catches for 119 yards and 3 TDs. Morgan had 15 carries for 50 yards.

Mt. Vernon improves to 5-3 and welcomes 1-7 Alton on Friday night. You can listen to that game on WMIX-FM 94.1 or use the WATCH LIVE menu at Centralia falls to 2-6 and looks to spoil 4-4 Effingham’s playoff hopes. You can listen to that game on Friday night on WRXX-FM 95.3 and the X95 Channel on the App.