As soon as the postgame speech came to a close in the cold and rain Friday night, the members of the Delta football team broke for their locker room. Besides getting out of the elements, the quick escape offered one other bonus for the Eagles players.
They were gone before the cheer went up from the other sideline; Mt. Vernon’s players celebrating a Hoosier Heritage Conference championship earned as the Eagles’ title hopes disappeared.
Delta came out on the wrong end of a 35-0 score at home Friday in what amounted to a conference championship game. It was the sort of loss that leaves a team looking back, scrutinizing the many miscues along the way.
“When we need to make plays like that, we just haven’t made them at times,” Delta coach Grant Zgunda said. “That’s the way it is. That’s the game of football.”
In conditions Eagle running back Bryce Dishman simply called miserable, Delta fumbled nine times, losing two, and dropped at least four passes that could have extended drives. The drops didn’t include several backward passes that misfired and resulted in large losses.
But the most crucial mishandled ball came early in the second half. The 4A No. 8 Marauders (7-1 overall, 6-0 HHC) led 14-0, but Delta (5-2, 4-2) had driven to the Mt. Vernon 1-yard line after a fumble recovery. On first and goal, Eagle quarterback Cade Jones lost the ball on a sneak when he tried to push forward after initially getting stopped.
That all but killed any push the hosts had.
“Momentum was definitely a big swing there,” Dishman said. “We definitely had a score right there that could have been a big momentum change.”
Four plays later, Marauder wingback Tyler Dicks broke outside for an 85-yard touchdown run.
The running game keyed Mt. Vernon as it ground out drives in the first half, producing short scoring runs from Dicks and fullback Andy Spears in the first and second quarter. The big plays came in the second half. The Marauders finished with 407 rushing yards and five scores. Their only pass attempt was wiped out by a penalty.
The Eagles managed only 130 yards of total offense and averaged only 2.6 yards per play.
The conference title is Mt. Vernon’s first since 2003, also the last season it beat Delta.