The neighboring North Springs Spartans and Mount Vernon Mustangs kicked off the 2017 season with a full-length scrimmage Aug. 11. More important than the eventual Spartan 41-28 victory was the opportunity for both squads to give meaningful playing time to everyone dressed out on their rosters.

With so many new players stepping in for last year’s seniors, it was no surprise that the start was bumpy.

The Mustangs punted after one first down to the Spartans, who sputtered through the first of four consecutive 3-and-out possessions. Mount Vernon scored on a nice 37-yard touchdown pass. On their next possession, the Mustangs scored on a fourth down 41-yard pass play right down the middle for a 14-0 lead.

Late in the first quarter, Spartan Jahvon Millard a pass on the right sideline and returned it to the 17-yard line. Junior Kyree Green pounded the ball in from the 1 for a touchdown. Burly center Jorge Gonzalez kicked the first of his 5-for-5 extra points. On the very next possession, Jahvon Millard intercepted another pass, setting up a drive that ended on downs just short of the goal line. Strong tackles by Evan Murphy and Jajuan Woodall forced another long Mustang punt. The Mustangs returned the interception favor at their 47. Mount Vernon capped the drive with a short touchdown pass and a 21-7 lead. Spartan Jalen Delaney made the most of a Brian Adams pass left, running across the middle for 30 yards. Two plays later, Delaney caught a short pass, let his momentum take him backwards, curled around the two defenders, and raced for a 51-yard touchdown to pull within 21-14 at half.

Despite weather concerns, the only lightning that struck was on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, when a benign student-body-right sweep turned into an 80-yard touchdown by senior Caleb Neely to tie the score. Francis Shema and Evan Watson made nice tackles on the next series. Junior QB Aaron Bell moved the Spartans but the drive ended in Mustang territory.

After the Spartan defense held on the next series, QB Bell hit a streaking Ryan Gordon for a 55-yard touchdown. Evan Watson got in on the interception action on the next drive, returning to the Mustang 12, where Caleb Neely ran left for a TD and 35-21 lead late in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter was a revolving door of players on both sides. Mount Vernon kept competing, highlighted by a 75-yard left screen touchdown play. With the ball back late trailing by seven, the Mustang QB dropped back but lost the ball to Kyree Green, who took the ball 60 yards for the final 41-28 score. North Springs opens the regular season Aug. 25 at KIPP, while Mount Vernon will host Whitefield Academy.

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