Eagles complete epic comeback against Mt. Vernon

Photo by David Kapitan

Senior quarterback McGwire Martin stiff arms a Mt. Vernon defender to the ground during the Eagles 29-28 come from behind win.


The Canton Eagles pulled off a comeback for the ages during their home opener against Mt. Vernon, storming back from a 21-7 fourth quarter deficit to stun the Tigers 29-28 with a last second touchdown and PAT at Norris Birdwell Stadium Sept. 14.

Canton took possession of the ball to open play, losing yardage on two of their first three plays before being forced to punt the ball to the Tigers.

Mt. Vernon also struggled on its first series of the night, netting nine yards on first down before fumbling the ball back to the Eagles just two plays later to set up the Eagles at their own 41-yard line.

The Eagles and Tigers proceeded to trade punts, failing to make much headway due to costly penalties and strong defensive play from both sides.

Canton finally broke the streak on their third possession of the night, stringing together a 13-play, 51 yard drive for the first points of the night. The drive would open with three penalties in four plays, including back-to-back false start penalties against the Eagles and a 10-yard holding call against the Tigers.

A nine-yard run by Cameron Sullivan and a 15-yard completion from McGwire Martin to Chris Hobbs began to get the Eagles headed in the right direction following the run of penatlies. Another Martin pass completion, as well as runs by Chris Cade and Martin would eventually push the ball down to the one-yard line. Facing a fourth down and goal-to-go situation, Martin outran a Mt. Vernon defender to the left side of the field for a touchdown and a 6-0 Eagle lead. Justice Collier added the PAT, putting Canton in fron 7-0 with 33 seconds left in the opening quarter.

Mt. Vernon responded to Canton’s challenge with one of their most impressive drives of the night, going 88 yards in 16 plays for the tying score. The Tigers ran the ball 15 times overall during the sequence, capping the drive with a 12-yard run by Adolfo Rodriguez with just 4:28 to play in the half. Max Rutledge subsequently added the PAT, tying the score at 7-7.

Canton began their first possession of the second quarter with excellent field position courtesy of a 15-yard late hit out of bounds penalty to take the ball at the 35-yard line.

After back-to-back incompletions, Chris Cade broke off a 13-yard run to push the ball close to midfield. The Eagles would eventually break into Tiger territory on a 5-yard completion from Martin to Cooper Smith before their drive stalled out. Facing a fourth and five to go situation, the Eagles opted to role the dice by going for the first down. Mt. Vernon's defense would be equal to the task, bringing down the Eagles behind the line of scrimmage for a turnover on downs.

Seven plays later the Tigers would tally another touchdown, scoring on a one-yard keeper from quarterback Kason Pletcher with just 16 seconds left in the half. Max Rutlegdge would add another PAT, giving Mt. Vernon a 14-7 advantage entering the half.

The Tigers took the opening kickoff of the second quarter, retaining possession for seven plays before being forced to punt the ball by Canton’s defense. The Eagles would take their one and only possession of the third quarter and pick up a first down before a key holding penalty derailed their momentum. Canton would punt the ball back to Mt. Vernon, giving the Tigers their second possession of the third quarter.

The Tigers would once again rely on their ball control offense, methodically grinding their way down the field to run out to reach the Eagle four-yard line on the final play of the frame. Mt. Vernon would extend their advantage just one play into the fourth quarter on a run by Kason Pletcher, extending their lead to 21-7.

In severe danger of dropping to 0-2 on the season, Canton flipped the switch beginning on their first offensive series of the fourth quarter. After a kick out of bounds by Mt. Vernon, the Eagles got a nine-yard completion from McGwire Martin to Cameron Sullivan to move the ball ot their own 39-yard line. Martin ran the ball on three consecutive plays, picking up 18, 45 and 39-yards respectively for a Canton touchdown. Justice Collier added the PAT, pulling Eagles to within 21-14 with 10:25 left in the game.

Following the Canton kickoff, Mt. Vernon took possession of the ball at their own 37-yard line with just over 10 minutes remaining. The Tigers proceeded to run the ball on eight consecutive plays, chewing nearly four minutes off the clock while reaching the Eagle 33-yard line. Needing to pick up six yards for a first down, Canton successfully stopped back-to-back passing attempts by the Tiger offense to take control of the ball at their own 33-yard line with 6:21 to play.

Canton marched dow the field in impressive fashion, getting a 16-yard completion from Martin to Cameron Sullian and a 15-yard run from Martin to reach the Mt. Vernon 20-yard line with approximately 3:40 left to play. Facing a fourth down and eight moments later following a five-yard penalty, Martin raced around the edge of the Tiger defense for a first down and a fresh set of downs.

Two plays later, sophomore running back Chris Cade bulled his way through the defense for a touchdown to bring Canton to within 21-20 with 2:39 left to play. Rather than go for the extra point, the Eagles opted to go for two. McGwire Martin faked a quarterback sneak up the middle, throwing a short pass to a well-covered Cameron Sullivan for a 22-21 Eagle lead.

Mt. Vernon got a fortunate break on the ensuing Canton kickoff, getting a solid return to return the ball to their own 45-yard line. The Tigers picked up a first down and moved into Canton territory on a 6-yard run and an offsides penalty. With just over a minute to play, Kason Pletcher found an open Cade Hyman for a 41-yard touchdown to put Mt. Vernon in front 27-22. Rather than go for a two-point conversion, the Tigers went for and succeeded in a PAT to extend their lead to 28-22 with 54 seconds left to play.

Mt. Vernon’s kickoff would go into the end zone, giving the Eagles the ball at their own 25-yard line with no timeouts remaining and 54 seconds left to play.

The Eagle offense misfired on first down before Martin found Cooper Smith along the left sideline for a 12-yard completion and a first down. After incomplete pass on the next play, Martin avoided pressure from the interior of the Tiger defense to find Jon Anderson along the right sideline. Anderson’s gain pushed the ball to the 30-yard line with 22 seconds to play.

After clocking the ball on the next play, Martin connected with Cameron Sullivan on a 14-yard completion to put the ball at the 16-yard line with 14 seconds to play. Canton would complete its miracle comeback moments later with Martin finding sophomore Jon Anderson in the middle of the field for a touchdown and a 28-28 tie. Justice Collier would add the successful PAT, giving the Eagles the 29-28 win.

Canton will look to improve their season record to 2-1 overall when they travel to Mabank Sept. 21 for a rivalry game against the 0-2 Panthers. Canton and Mabank last met during the third week of the 2017 season with the Eagles securing a 35-20 victory at Norris Birdwell Stadium.