MOUNT VERNON – Purple fireworks lit up the sky as Mount Vernon fans and players jumped with joy.

Josh Finney spoke with pride about his team’s performance. After years wallowing in mediocrity, the Tigers proved they belong.

In fact, they left no question.

They defeated defending state champion Mineola, 60-21 on Friday to pick up their eighth win, the first time they had reached that total since 2004.

Finney, in his first year as coach of the Tigers, greeted elated fans after the game. As they congratulated him, he couldn't help but mirror their beaming expressions.

"It's going to slingshot (the program) light years ahead," Finney said. "It's just so exciting to be a part of it. (Mineola) is well-coached, they're great athletes and they've been playing some good guys all season."

The victory moves Mount Vernon into sole possession of first place in District 7-3A with a record of 8-0 (4-0).

The Tigers stuck to the game plan that had brought them success all season. They ran the ball 48 times for 503 yards. It seemed Mineola was hapless against Mount Vernon's offense, which had seven runs of 25-plus yards Friday evening.

With players such as Kason Fletcher and John Haller, both of whom ran for more than 100 yards, Finney said he feels the old-school style of offense suits his team well.

"That's the type of kids we have here and the type of ball I believe was meant to be played," he said. "The spread is fancy, but it's just not us. It's not me. I like doing what our kids are able to execute. It really makes for a tight, cohesive unit when you have to be so disciplined up front and block everything perfect for it to work."

Shaw Franklin opened the game with a long touchdown run to give the Yellowjackets a 7-0 lead. It appeared Mineola wasn't going to relinquish its status as the district powerhouse so easily.

Mount Vernon quickly put to rest any doubt about its team. The Tigers scored 38 unanswered points to take an insurmountable lead.

The Yellowjackets had their chances.

Midway through the second quarter when Mineola was two yards away from a touchdown, the Tigers kept it out of the end zone four times to force a turnover on downs.

Later in the game, when Mineola (3-4, 2-1) appeared to have found rhythm in the passing game, but it did so too late. Franklin finished with 228 yards passing in addition to 129 rushing. He found open receivers in the second half.

The Yellowjacket defense couldn't stop the big plays. Ultimately, that would be its downfall.

Mount Vernon still has two games left on its district slate. It will take on Quitman at 7:30 p.m. Friday on the road to try to maintain its undefeated status.

The victory against Mineola is sweet, but its back to business for the Tigers. Mount Vernon has won only two playoff games since 1978 and hasn't made a postseason appearance in 12 years.

At least the latter part of that statement will change, and Finney's goals are much larger than a win against the defending state champion.

"We're gonna enjoy this one until about midnight tonight and then put some focus on Quitman," Finney said. "We can't look ahead and we can't look behind. The most important win is the next win. I want to enjoy this for a few hours, and we've got to keep focusing."

Mount Vernon 60, Mineola 21

At Don Meredith Memorial Stadium, Mount Vernon

Mineola              7    0   14   0    --    21
Mount Vernon      22    8    16     14    --    60

First Quarter
MIN--Shaw Franklin 43 run (Cameron Sorenson kick), 10:43.
MTV--John Haller 57 run (Brent Baird kick), 9:29.
MTV--Kason Pletcher 9 run (Baird kick), 2:58.
MTV--Adolfo Rodriguez 9 run (2-point good Pletcher), 0:37.
Second Quarter
MTV--Haller 1 run (2-point good Cameron Woods), 0:49.
Third Quarter
MTV--Woods 31 run (2-point good Pletcher), 8:04.
MIN--Franklin 18 run (kick Sorenson), 7:04.
MTV--Pletcher 46 run (2-point good Haller to Vencent Rockwell), 5:45.
MIN--Curtis London 5 run (Sorenson kick), 2:24
Fourth Quarter
MTV--Trey Wickware 14 run (2-point failed), 11:07
MTV--Colby Lindley 44 run (2-point good Haller), 0:23

                                           MIN                    MTV
First Downs                             16                       14
Total Yards                             400                     509
Rushes-Yards                   31-172                 48-503
Passing Yards                        228                  6
Comp.-Att.-Int.                16-32-1             1-3-1
Punts-Avg.                         2-33.0               1-50.0
Fumbles-Lost                          1-0                    1-0
Penalties-Yards                     5-35                  4-50

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING--Mineola, Shaw Franklin 16-129, Trevion Sneed 5-16, Curtis London 9-30, Team 1-(-3). Mount Vernon, Kason Pletcher 13-152, John Haller 11-101, Cameron Woods 6-77, Adolfo Rodriguez 4-40, Colby Lindley 4-55, Trey Wickware 3-48, Cade Hyman 3-27, Xander Redar 2-7, Mason Huddleston 1-1, Team, 1-(-5). 
PASSING--Mineola, Franklin 16-32-1--228. Mount Vernon, Pletcher 1-2-0--6, Lindley 0-1-1--0.
RECEIVING--Mineola, Cameron Sorenson 6-77, Cole Castleberry 3-51, Cody Ford 2-17, Trevion Sneed 2-15, Preston Lankford 1-36, Cameron Bowman 1-22, Curtis London 1-10. Mount Vernon, Dee Shepard 1-6.