It was the Vernon Panthers first senior varsity football win over the Fulton Maroons in 13 years.
The Cats needed to overcome a slow start to do it, but they succeeded in earning a 14-2 result in varsity high school action Saturday at Grahame Park.
“I haven’t been more proud of these boys in the three years I’ve worked with them. They faced some adversity early on, hung in there and came away with a hard-fought win,” said VSS head coach Sean Smith.
With soggy conditions deterring both teams’ passing games, the Panthers turned to Colton Klein, who rushed for 67 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Ryan Messer added a two-point convert and supplied 39 yards on 10 touches, while Brett Lemiski was good for 25 yards on two carries.
Caton Garvie’s lone throw netted 30 yards, while Perry Klymchuk went 2-for-3 in the air for 19 yards.
“We won this game because our offensive and defensive lines controlled the line of scrimmage in the second half. It was sloppy and hard to pass in the rain, so we had to rely on our big guys to win in the trenches. Fulton is always tough to play against and this game was no different,” said Smith.
Fulton’s only points came on a quarterback sack for a safety by Lucas Hofer in the first quarter.
“This obviously is a very tough loss for our team. At the senior level, VSS has not beaten us this century, and the last time we lost to them was 1998,” said Fulton head coach Mike Scheller.
“Sean Smith and his staff have done a great job with their program, and they deserved to win the game Saturday. They have some tough kids, had to overcome a lot of adversity to win.”
The Maroons got rushing from Matt Parlee (47 yards), Mike Ochoa (44 yards) and Kyle Richardson (40 yards), who threw 4-for-12 for 45 yards with two interceptions.
Clayton Mottus, earning 23 yards on two catches, was his main target, with Ochoa (16 yards) and Parlee (six yards) also reeling in receptions.
“They tried to give the game to us in the first half and we did not take it. We knew they would be undisciplined and brash, and they were. They made mistakes, took penalties and we failed to capitalize,” said Scheller.
“In the end, we took too many penalties and made way too many mistakes to win.”
Defensively, Isaiah Hennessey delivered five tackles and had a fumble recovery for the Panthers, while Klein and Josh Froom each supplied four tackles. Klein and Noah Miller each added a sack.
Hofer, Sean Greene and Richardson led Fulton with nine tackles apiece.
“Defensively, we played very well. All four of our linebackers played great games, and our inside duo of Hofer and Ochoa continue to be our best players game in and game out,” said Scheller.