The Mountaineers of Mt. Vernon may have brought the Bell Bowl trophy to Kelley Field last Friday, but the Aurora Houn' Dawgs made sure they didn't leave with it, making a statement in a 33-14 win over their rivals. The win put the Dawgs back over the .500 mark for the year with a 4-3 overall record.
Aurora wasted no time getting the advantage over the visitors, scoring on the first drive of the game on a one-yard rush by senior quarterback John Dakota Lee with 8:18 on the clock. An extra point by senior Dakota Kessinger made it 7-0 to give the Houn' Dawgs the early momentum.
The Aurora defense made its presence known early, as well, forcing a fumble on the Mountaineers' opening drive. Aurora recovered the ball for first down at the Mt. Vernon eight-yard line and later scored the second TD of the game on a three-yard carry by senior Blake Williams. After a blocked PAT, the Houn' Dawgs led 13-0 with more than six minutes still remaining in the opening quarter.
Mt. Vernon's second drive lasted only slightly longer than its first, as a first down was wasted after junior Colson Husmann forced and recovered another fumble to gain possession back for the Dawgs.
After a 35-yard pass from Lee to junior Casey Weathermon, the quarter ended with Aurora looking at a second and goal situation at the Mt. Vernon five-yard line. Five seconds into the second quarter, Lee found the end zone for his second rush TD of the game to give the home team a 19-0 lead.
The Mountaineers finally got on the board after that with a one-yard touchdown and extra point, but the momentum would not last long. An 81-yard catch and run by junior Kaden Clark scored six more points for Aurora to make it a 25-7 game with 8:30 left in the half.
The Houn' Dawgs weren't finished in the opening half, though, and a fourth down conversion with 10 yards to go set them up with first down at the Mt. Vernon 15. A 10-yard touchdown pass from Lee to senior Clayton Dunning with less than a minute on the clock then put the Dawgs even further ahead, along with a successful two-point conversion. The half ended with Aurora on top by a score of 33-7.
Mt. Vernon came out motivated in the second half, scoring a touchdown on the first drive to make it 33-14. But that would be all the Aurora defense would allow for the rest of the night.
As the offense failed to find the end zone again, the Houn' Dawg defense stood strong to keep the Mountaineers off the board, coming up with crucial plays, including a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions. The 33-14 score held for the rest of the second half to give Aurora its third Big 8 Conference win of the season.
Dunning finished the game as one of the defensive leaders, with an interception, a caused fumble and 10 total tackles. Leading the tackles category was senior Connor Savage with 13, followed by junior Isaac Martinez with 12. Sophomore Dylan Clayton also recorded an interception, while Lee, Martinez, Weathermon and junior Austin Hartwigsen each caused a fumble.
On the offense, Lee was 13-for-17 on pass attempts for 161 yards, adding 36 yards on 18 carries, as well. Dunning was the rushing leader with 47 yards on six carries, while junior Logan Lauffer added 37 yards on eight carries.
Weathermon led the receivers with 97 yards on six catches, while Clark finished with 84 yards on two catches.
Aurora will look to pick up its fifth win of the year on the road this week at Cassville. The game against the Wildcats will kick off at 7 p.m.