As the crowd filed out after Reeds Spring’s 30-0 loss to Mt. Vernon, the Wolves’ coach didn’t spend any time philosophizing about what went wrong as his team fell to 2-2 overall.
“We got beat,” he said. “That’s a really good football team, there’s no doubt about it.
“I thought our kids played really hard, but we got beat, and that’s what I told the kids after the game. The only thing I know how to do after something like this is come back and watch film, try to learn from it and get better.”
Mt. Vernon came in unbeaten and ranked No. 4 in the latest Class 3 state rankings, and the Mountaineers were as good as advertised, dominating from start to finish.
Mt. Vernon racked up 443 yards of total offense, held Reeds Spring to 145 yards of offense and an average of 2.6 yards per play, and shrugged off three turnovers that put the Wolves in prime position.
“We’ll look at it, and there are some things that we can do better,” Gosch said. “We’ll focus on the things we need to do better and work on it. But we’re not going to dwell on it, and we’re not going to browbeat anybody about it. It happened and we’ll learn from it and move on.”
The first takeaway came on the Mountaineers’ first possession, when Reeds Spring’s Prestin Lehew forced and then recovered a fumble after a completed pass.
That set up Reeds Spring with a first down on its 36-yard line, but the threat ended quickly when the Wolves lost a fumble near midfield.
A fumble on Reeds Spring’s next possession, on a first-and-15 play from its own 10-yard line, was scooped up by Mt. Vernon’s Cale Miller and returned for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.
The Mountaineers struck again late in the first quarter, with Zach Jones hitting Rafe Darter with a 2-yard scoring pass for a 12-0 lead.
That was the score when a Jones pass was picked off by Colton Cramblett on a nice individual play, giving the Wolves the ball on the Reeds Spring 48-yard line.
Adam Lewis picked off another Jones pass on Mt. Vernon’s first possession of the second half, giving the Wolves possession near midfield.
After both interceptions, Reeds Spring went three-and-out and was forced to punt.
Mt. Vernon tacked on a TD on a 3-yard run by Brayden Martin late in the second half, then scored on an 8-yard pass from Jones to Darter in the third quarter, and a Jones-to-Darter pass covering 12 yards midway through the fourth quarter.
It was the worst loss of the season for the Wolves, and the most lopsided victory of the season for Mt. Vernon, with its wins including a 22-21 victory over Monett and an 18-13 win over Marshfield.
But Gosch isn’t dwelling on the past in the least. That was his message after the game, to the team and about the next challenge on the schedule.
“You can’t pout about it and start doubting yourself, it happened,” Gosch said. “We talk to them all the time about focusing on the next play. This is the same thing here. It’s all about the next game. So we’ll move on.”
Jones finished 18-of-32 passing for 203 yards and three touchdowns, with Martin rushing for 103 yards and a score on 12 carries.
Cramblett rushed for 67 yards on 17 carries to lead the Wolves, with J.T. Bayliff adding 41 yards on the ground on 11 tries.
The Wolves were playing with about a half-dozen players in street clothes on the sidelines, including two-way key player Tony Leal.
“We’ll find out first of next week who we’ve got coming back, but everybody faces the same thing,” Gosch said. “I’m proud of some of our young kids, because we’re asking some kids to step up and play, and they’re playing their butts off. I’m proud of that.”
Next up for the Wolves is a trip to Springfield Catholic, against an Irish team that is 3-1 after a 38-28 victory over Marshfield on Friday.
“There’s nothing easy,” Gosch said. “That’s something about joining the Big 8 (Conference) – you know week in week out you’re going to face well-coached teams and kids who play hard. Catholic is very talented, and it will be another tough test.
“I think we’ll flush it and move on and get better.”
In other Tri-Lakes games on Friday night, Branson dropped a 42-0 decision at Webb City, Hollister snapped a two-game skid with a 20-6 victory at McDonald County and Forsyth lost by a 55-8 score at Fair Grove.