Two plays into the game, Gavin Neal dropped back and threw a strike to Kyler Kropp for a touchdown.
That set the tone for a wild night at Kelso Stadium, as Neal threw a school-record-tying five touchdown passes, four to Kropp, which also set a record in the Dragons' 63-39 victory over Mt. Vernon.
The victory was the 400th win in the program's 56-year history.
The Dragons won the Boundary Rail for the 16th time in the 19 years it has been contested, and now hold a 38-24-1 record all-time against MV with their third straight victory in the series.
Grayson Thomas ran for 290 yards and two touchdowns, while Kropp had four catches for 182 yards, with all four going to the end zone. Five of Neal's six pass completions were for touchdowns, as Ty Mitchell also had a 69-yard scoring reception. The Dragons amassed 614 yards of offense on the night, including 368 in an explosive second half. The Dragons scored on five of their last six possessions before kneeling out the game's final drive.
The Dragons had a dominant first quarter. After the Red Rage forced a three-and-out and a short punt, Neal hit Kropp for a 30-yard TD on the Dragons' second play. MV responded with a long kickoff return to set up a 38-yard field goal and after a stop, the Marauders drove deep into Dragons territory. An interception by Mason Hiatt at the 1 thwarted that threat and set the Dragons in motion.
Neal and Kropp capped the ensuing 99-yard drive with a 57-yard touchdown pass. After forcing another punt, Neal gave the Dragons a 21-3 lead with a 9-yard TD run, which came after a 29-yard by Thomas on third-and-14. After another MV punt, Neal hit Mitchell for a 69-yard TD pass down the right sideline to push the lead to 28-3.
MV found its rhythm and scored touchdowns on its final two drives of the half to cut the lead to 28-17, then cut the lead further after capitalizing on a fumble deep in Dragons territory on the first drive of the second half to cut the lead to 28-23.
But then the fireworks began. On the next snap, Thomas took the ball right up the middle for an 80-yard TD run to restore a two-score lead at 35-23. The Dragons forced a punt and then extended the lead two plays later with a 50-yard pass to Kropp. On the next snap, MV's Joliba Brogan scored on a 65-yard TD to cut the lead to 42-31. The Dragons were forced to punt, but it was muffed and Mitchell recovered on the MV 26. Seven plays later, Kropp punched it in from 10 yards out to extend the lead to 49-31. MV again scored on the next play - this time a 62-yard run from Brogan - to cut the lead to 49-39, but the Dragons saw the game out with a dominant running game.
Kropp caught a 45-yard pass from Neal to cap a five-play, 80-yard drive to push the lead to 56-39. The Dragons then forced a punt and scored on their next drive, grinding out a nine-play, 49-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard run by Thomas with 5:02 left. The Dragons then recovered a squib kick and bled out the remainder of the clock - holding the ball for the game's last 9:56 and not allowing MV's powerful offense a single snap in that time frame.
Thomas' 290 yards were a career high and the most since Charlie Spegal ran for 364 yards against Anderson in 2018. Kropp's four TD catches broke a record of three held by several players, most recently by Colby Jenkins in 2017. He had 182 receiving yards. Neal threw for 245 yards, completing 6-of-11 passes. All but one of his completions - a five-yard screen pass to Thomas - went for touchdowns. The 614 yards were the most since amassing 691 Nov. 2, 2018 against Anderson.
The Dragons are now 2-2 overall and 2-0 in the HHC. They host Pendleton Heights next week.
Week 5: Dragons 63, Mt. Vernon 39
Friday, Sept. 8 at Kelso Stadium
Mt. Vernon (1-3, 0-2) 3-17-22-0 -- 39
New Palestine (2-2, 2-0) 21-7-21-14 -- 63
NP-Kropp 30 pass from Neal (Wells kick), 10:34
MV-Vinard 38 FG, 9:06
NP-Kropp 57 pass from Neal (Wells kick), 3:07
NP-Neal 9 run (Wells kick), :37
NP-Mitchell 69 pass from Neal (Wells kick), 9:55
MV-Jones 25 pass from Ertel (Vinard kick), 8:01
MV-Brogan 3 run (Vinard kick), 1:53
MV-Brogan 4 run (run failed), 8:59
NP-Thomas 80 run (Wells kick), 8:47
NP-Kropp 50 pass from Neal (Wells kick), 6:26
MV-Brogan 65 run (Etherington pass form Ertel), 6:16
NP-Kropp 10 run (Wells kick), 1:12
MV-Brogan 62 run (Jones run), :53
NP-Kropp 45 pass from Neal (Wells kick), 11:30
NP-Thomas 2 run (Wells kick), 5:02
First downs: MV 18, NP 17
Rushes-yards: MV 34-268, NP 50-348
Passing C-A-I: MV 9-20-1, NP 6-11-0
Passing yards: MV 94, NP 256
Total plays-yards: MV 54-364, NP 61-604
Fumbles-lost: MV 2-2, NP 1-1
Penalties-yards: MV 6-33, NP 7-75
Punts-avg: MV 5-15.8, NP 3-36.3
Time of possession: MV 20:36, NP 27:24
Rushing: Brogan 26-246, Jones 2-14, Ertel 5-4, Johnson 1-4
Passing: Ertel 9-20-1-94
Receiving: Jones 3-46, Barnett 2-29, Etherington 2-27, Joy 1-(-3), Brogan 1-(-5)
Rushing: Thomas 31-285, Neal 13-46, Kropp 4-20, team 2-(-3)
Passing: Neal 6-11-0-256
Receiving: Kropp 4-182, Mitchell 1-69, Thomas 1-5