An early fourth-quarter touchdown was the deciding factor in Mount Vernon's 24-21 win Saturday night over Juneau-Douglas at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
The Crimson Bears grabbed their first lead of the game after a Justin Brooks fumble recovery returned for a touchdown at the 4:27-mark of the third quarter, but JDHS's only advantage didn't hold up.
The Bulldogs reclaimed the lead after senior running back Marchael Acode hit the sideline on first-and-10 for a 56-yard gain down to the Bears' 17-yard line.
Senior quarterback Derek Almanza then took a direct snap, hit the corner and ran virtually untouched into the end zone on the next play as Mount Vernon reclaimed the lead, 24-21 after a two-point conversion, with 11:38 to play.
The Bears had one last shot, but their final drive came up short, ending at the Mount Vernon 31-yard line with an incomplete pass on fourth down.
After a Christian Parker interception ruined the Bulldogs' first possession of the game, resulting in a missed field goal for the Bears, Mount Vernon went straight down the field on their second try.
The Bulldogs went 82 yards in 10 plays, finishing with an 8-yard touchdown run by junior running back Marchael Acode on a draw play.
On the first play of the Bears' ensuing possession, sophomore quarterback Phillip Fenumiai hit senior receiver Colin Gozelski over the middle for a 42-yard gain down to the Bulldog 24-yard line.
But Fenumiai fumbled the snap and the Bulldogs' Blake Allen recovered, and Mount Vernon again marched straight down the field.
After a tackle in the backfield by the Bears' Devin Drones and an a illegal procedure penalty had the Bulldogs backed up to third-and-19 from their own 40-yard line, Almanza pump faked and hit senior Lamar Madkin for a 60-yard touchdown and a 13-0 lead after a Cody Palmgren PAT with 2:42 left in the first quarter.
JDHS connected on another big gain on its next possession as Fenumiai hit Sean Collum for a 41-yard completion, setting up a 19-yard touchdown pass to Gozelski to get the Bears on the board and cut into the deficit. The two-point conversion failed and it was 13-6, Mount Vernon, with 1:09 left in the first quarter.
The Bears' Marshall Sargeant stepped in front an Almanza pass early in the second quarter and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown, but Cameron Larson blocked the kick and the Bulldogs led 13-12 with 9:58 to play in the first half.
Mount Vernon countered with a big return, setting up an eventual 23-yard field goal by Palmgren for a 16-12 lead with 6:24 to play in the first half.
The Bears took over at their own 34-yard line and Fenumiai again connected with Gozelski for a big gain, this time off play-action, down to the Mount Vernon 42 for a 24-yard completion.
On fourth-and-6, Fenumiai found Gozelski for another first down to the Bulldog 25-yard line, setting up an eventual 24-yard Peter Jorgensen field goal, and the Bulldogs led 16-15 at the break.
Mount Vernon opened the second half with a 59-yard scoring drive, going with the run more and more as the wind picked up at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
But a high snap sailed over Almanza's head, and Justin Brooks scooped it up and ran about 50 yards untouched for the go-ahead touchdown, giving JDHS a 21-16 lead at the 4:27-mark of the third quarter after a failed two-point conversion.
Fenumiai finished 9 of 22 for 187 yards and one touchdown with one interception. Fenumiai had just 19 yards passing in the second half. Gozelski caught six passes for 125 yards and one touchdown.
Acode had 15 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown, and Almanza completed 5 of 12 passes for 136 yards and a score with two interceptions. He also carried 14 times for 57 yards and a touchdown. Madkin had three catches for 122 yards and a touchdown.
JDHS is back in action next week against North Pole at 8 p.m. Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
How They Scored
MVHS - Acode 8 run (kick failed), 6:12
MVHS - Madkin 60 pass from Almanza (Palmgren kick), 2:42
JDHS - Gozelski 19 pass from Fenumiai (conversion failed), 1:09
JDHS - Sargeant 37 interception return (kick failed), 9:58
MVHS - Palmgren 23 field goal, 6:24
JDHS - Jorgensen 24 field goal, 1.7
JDHS - Brooks 55 fumble return (conversion failed), 4:27
MVHS - Almanza 17 run (Almanza run), 11:39