MOUNT VERNON – It was a showdown between Interstate 20 and Interstate 30 here Friday night, but the I-30 team came away the winner, as Mount Vernon’s Tigers, ranked securely in the top five in the #bEastTexas Fabulous 15, rolled up over 400 rushing yards in a 65-28 win over Sabine.

The Cardinals, now 1-3, travel to Frisco next week to play the Episcopal School of Dallas at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ practice field.

The Cardinals kicked off and attempted an onside kick.  It failed and gave the Tigers great field position.  The defense saw a multitude of running as the Tigers used McKenzie McGill and Jaden Horten in tandem running the ball.  This didn’t fool the defense as they held them to four downs turning it over to the Cardinals.

Sabine’s offense went to work, with Colt Sparks directing the team at quarterback and Javarion Pereira at running back. Pereira broke free on the third play for a 21-yard gain.  Sparks went to the air but was incomplete.  He then began a streak of nine completions.  Part of the streak was a 20-yard pass to Cayden Fortson for the first score of the game. The extra point by Jovany Jaimes gave the Cardinals an early 7-0 lead.

The Tigers roared back on their next drive, as Horton took the kickoff for a 60-yard return, setting up a short field. Horton and McGill traded carries taking the ball to the Sabine 1-yard-line.  Big tight end Mason Pope plowed the final yard for the score and Edgar Munoz added the tying point.

With the score tied, the Mount Vernon defense held tight and forced the Cardinals to punt on four downs.  With the ball back in the running Tigers hands, they chewed off yards moving down field.  Sitting at the 12, McGill weaved through the line to break the plane and give the Tigers the lead.   The extra point good left the Tigers up 14-7.

With three minutes left in the quarter, the Cardinals took over.  Sparks went to the air and found Caleb McKinney for 8 then Fortson for 11.  A little bit of trickery on third down found the Cardinals missing on a lateral forcing a punt.  The Tigers took over ending the quarter.

The defense began hitting hard as the Cardinals sacked the Mount Vernon quarterback, putting the Tigers in a fourth-and-long and punting.  With a long field, the Cardinals opened it up.  Riley Roys took the end around for 18 yards followed by a 5-yard rush.

Just over the midfield mark, Sparks went to his go to guy and found Fortson who outran the defense for a 48-yard score. The added extra point tied the game at 14.

That was short lived as the running offense of the Tigers baffled the Cardinal defense and Horton ran for 19 and 10 yards with McGill adding 23. The final 7 was again taken by the tight end Pope for the score and a 21 -14 lead.

Sabine’s offense couldn’t get anything going and were again forced to punt.  Yet again, the Tiger stayed on the ground and continued to pound up the middle.  Given a short field it didn’t take long to move, and McGill found daylight on the final 9 for the score and a 28-14 lead.

With two minutes remaining in the half, the Tiger defense was able to force the Cardinals to punt and gave the Tigers a short field.  Horton went to the air into the endzone, and Cooper McNatt for the Cardinals snagged the interception and returned it 30 yards.

A personal foul added another 15 and the Cardinals were at midfield with a minute left.  On first down, Sparks went to the air in double coverage and Quin Barrentine pulled down the interception for the Tigers.  McGill then sprinted 20 yards down to the 8 with 6 seconds left.  Out trots Munoz who drilled the 25-yard field goal and a 31-14 halftime lead.

Coming out of the half, the Cardinals had to look to the air. On second down, though Sparks’ pass was picked off by Gavin Rainey to end the drive.  Then McGill squirted free for a 65-yard score and 38 points on the board.

The Tigers stopped the Cardinals again and took over with their high-powered offense. McGill again had the bulk of the carries and the put it away for a 26-yard score.  The Cardinals put out the effort as, still in the third, they moved down field with Sparks finding Hudson McNatt for 10 then Roys plowed the final 5 in for the score to cut the lead to 45-21.  Punts by both teams ended the quarter and the Tigers took the ball into the fourth.

The little used air game by the Tigers came into play as James Mitchell hauled in a 20-yard pass. The ground game was the thing as Horton plowed for the 1-yard score.

The failed extra point left the score at 51-21.

The Cardinals weren’t done yet.  They had heart and Sparks found McKinney for 15 and 12 yards.  Roys caught the last for a 5-yard score.  With time running and the score out of hand, the Cardinal defense forced a turnover on down.  Sparks gave up his third interception to Barrentine, who returned it to the 8.  McGill took it in for his fifth touchdown of the night.

In mop up, the Tigers scored at the end with Dawson Witherspoon sprinting 6 yards for the score and the final score of 65 -28.

For the Cardinals, Sparks had 221 yards through the air with three touchdowns and three interceptions.  He added 64 rushing. Fortson had 86 receiving and 2 scores. Roys had 30 and a score and McKinney added 46. Pereira had 43 on the ground with Roys having 29 and a score.  For the Tigers, McGill had 300 on the ground and his 5 scores, Horton added 100 and a score.  Mitchell added 44 receiving yards.

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Sports editor

Mitch Lucas is the sports editor for the Kilgore News Herald, and has been since June 1, 2002.