MOUNT UNION - If the Mount Union fans were feeling nervous when the Trojans had the ball on Everett's 1-yard line and failed to score, it wasn't without reason.
Mount Union has had trouble converting in the red zone lately, and this flaw turned out to be part of Mount Union's downfall in its 20-6 loss during Inter-County Conference Gold Division competition Friday.
"I don't know how many weeks it's been that we get inside the five or inside the 10, and we throw the ball, but then make mistakes and go backwards," Mount Union coach Cory Wertz said. "That's where you've got to smell blood. That's where you've got to be ready to punch it in. And we're making simple mistakes and it's costing us."
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE?BOYER
Mount Union quarterback Trevon Walker, left, throws a pass while Everett’s Austin Karns runs in to block Friday night in Mount Union. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com
But unfortunately for Mount Union, it was Everett which was smelling blood, and not just from 10 yards out. Everett's Barkley Rhoat scored all three of his team's touchdowns, and none were shorter than his first touchdown, which he ran in from 26 yards out. His second and third touchdowns were 58-and 54-yard runs respectively.
But even if Mount Union scored only once to Everett's three times, the Trojans were still hanging in there for the majority of the game.
With the score at 14-0 in the third quarter, Mount Union's Kahlil Fortson was doing everything he could to keep his team in the game. This effort was both on the offense and defense.
IF YOU GO
* Mount Union travels to West Branch Oct. 19
Part way into the third quarter, Everett had the ball on Mount Union's 20, and quarterback Spencer McInroy twice attempted to drop a pass into the end zone, but Fortson wasn't about to let that happen. Quick on his feet both times, Fortson kept in front of the receivers, and was just able to tip the ball out of play to prevent Everett from expanding its score even further.
Later in the third quarter, Mount Union was required to punt the ball away, but Riley Grainey recovered muffed punt on the 50 to regain possession for the Trojans. From there, Mount Union again threatened to strike when Trevon Walker passed the ball deep to Fortson, but the pass was missed by a hair and Mount Union eventually lost possesion on downs.
But if Mount Union was down, it wasn't yet out, and in the fourth quarter Walker ran one into the end zone to make the score 14-6. This scoring drive started when Cory Kylor jumped on an Everett fumble to get the ball at Mount Union's 23-yard line. Darrian Stapleton, with the help of Fortson and Devon Smith, put together a nice series of rushes to put Walker in perfect position to score. The time on the clock was 4:45.
Unfortunately for Mount Union, less than 20 seconds later, Rhoat broke away for his 54-yard touchdown at 4:27 in the fourth quarter. This was the last time either team would reach the end zone for a final score of 20-6.
"I thought we were in the game, then they break two big runs and take us out. The second one being right after we scored. It was a one score game, and then they break a long one. That was a back-breaker," Wertz said.
Mount Union has some injured players, and as the team moves forward, Wertz says it will be important to see how his secondary players can step in to fill those empty spots.
"We're getting guys banged up. We'll see how deep we are the next couple weeks. And that's not making any excuses. We'll just put some guys in, and see how they do."
Maybe Stapleton's performance on Friday was a glimpse of how the Trojans will react to these difficult circumstances. Stapleton had 14 carries for 73 rushing yards - almost half of his team's total rushing yards.
"Darrian (Stapleton) stepped in and did a very good job for us. I thought when Dylan (Smith) went down it left it up to B.J. (Loner) and Darrian, and Darrian filled in very well," Wertz said.
Mount Union (2-5, 1-3) travels to West Branch on Friday for more ICC action.