KENNESAW — Niko Vangarelli carried 25 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns, and also added 98 yards and another touchdown through the air as Mount Paran Christian defeated Trion 27-7 at Catherine Steele Sewell stadium on Friday. Mount Paran’s victory, combined with other losses among other teams in Georgia’s Class A private schools, gives the Eagles a strong chance of qualifying for the state playoffs when the final power rankings are released on Sunday.
“I feel good about it, I hope we make (the playoffs) and I think we will,” Mount Paran coach Mitch Jordan said. “Based on the numbers and what we had to do, it looks like we’ll get in as one of the lower seeds. But we’re just happy to get in if we do, no matter who we play.”
After the Eagles’ defense recovered a fumble, Vangarelli connected with Jackson Manning early in the second quarter to get the scoring started, a 14-yard touchdown pass to put Mount Paran ahead 7-0. The scoring drive lasted 14 plays and consumed over 5 minutes.
On the ensuing Trion possession, Mount Paran forced a three-and-out. Six plays later, Vangarelli ran into the end zone from 5 yards out, putting Mount Paran in control at 14-0 with just under 6 minutes remaining until halftime.
“We had a good week of practice and the kids played hard,” Jordan said. “We knew Trion was going to give us a physical game and we didn’t make many mistakes. I told them if we limit our mistakes we can beat anybody.”
Mount Paran extended the lead when Vangarelli was chased out of the pocket on third-and-16. He turned the scramble into a 19-yard touchdown run, putting the Eagles up 20-0 with 10 seconds left in the third quarter.
Matt Moore recorded Mount Paran’s final score of the night with a 3-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter. The touchdown was part of an eight-carry, 54-yard night for Moore.
If Mount Paran sneaks into the playoffs, it won’t be unfamiliar ground for the Eagles. It would be the seventh straight playoff appearance which includes a state championship in 2015. Expectations are always high.
“I think everyone has kind of raised the bar,” Jordan said. “This year we’ve had some tough games and we’ve played some great teams. There’s such a big emphasis on football here in Georgia and we have so many good teams to compete with in our region.”