Oct 4th, 2003 @ 5:54 pm | Author: VCSU Sports Information
It took Valley City State nearly eight full quarters at home to hit a home-run pass, but when they finally did, it was huge.
Kyle Kuznia hauled in a 83 yard bomb from quarterback Mark Fabian to break a 20-all tie in the fourth quarter as the Vikings rallied to defeat Si Tanka-Huron University Saturday.
"It felt real good to finally hit one of those," Fabian said of the pass. "We have had chances to get one, but things have gone against us."
The pass opened up things for the running game. Kenard Walker, who scored three touchdowns in the game, got things going in the fourth quarter - scoring both the tying scored to start the quarter and the final touchdown of the game.
"The passing game opened things up for us in the fourth quarter," Walker said. "It felt good to get into the end zone. The line did their job and me and Jimmy (fellow running back Jimmy Newton) both worked hard."
For the third straight week, the offense had trouble moving the ball - at least for three quarters they did.
"It felt a little like last week (against Jamestown College)," Viking coach Dennis McCulloch said. "Mainly because of the way Huron was running the ball. We came together as a team - hung together - in the fourth quarter."
The Huron running game, fueled by sophomore Larry Aldridge, chewed up yards and time for the Screaming Eagles. The Vikings did not play poorly against the run, but Aldridge was a very elusive back.
"We were in position most of the time," McCulloch said. "He just made us miss. He was real shifty."
Aldridge scored three times and rushed for 207 yards, but did not find the end zone in the fourth quarter.
"They challenged us with their speed," McCulloch said. "The whole defense rallied and played better football."
The defense set up the Vikings first score as VCSU forced a Huron punt from their own end zone. After the Screaming Eagles miss-hit a punt, the Vikings took over at the Huron 25. Walker scored four plays into the drive on a three-yard run.
"Kenard had a great day for us," McCulloch said. "He has been in the shadows of Jimmy all year but has all of the ability."
An Aldridge 33-yard score early in the second quarter countered Walker’s score, but the Screaming Eagles missed on a two-point conversion try leaving the Vikings with a 7-6 lead.
While the Huron kicking game was nonexistent, the Vikings were solid on special teams. Senior kicker/punter Jay Dukes hit a 37-yard field goal to give the Vikings a 10-6 lead.
Huron took its first lead with 27 seconds to play in the first half.
"Jay had a great day for us," McCulloch said. "He adds so much to this team. He gives the offense another dimension."
The Vikings used a big kickoff run by Walker and a clutch 38-yard field goal with no time on the clock by Dukes to pull with in 14-12 at the half. While the points were important, the way the Vikings responded was most important to McCulloch.
"We put together a good drive to close out the half," he said.
But the momentum would not last long as Huron pushed their lead to 20-13 on Aldridge’s final score. But the Screaming Eagles again missed the point after touchdown try.
"Overall, they were playing pretty good at that point, but we did not get our heads down," McCulloch said. "It was important that when I looked to the sidelines I did not see us getting down."
The Vikings went 89 yards on their game-tying drive spanning over the third and fourth quarters. During the drive, Fabian was instrumental with big runs, both designed and scrambles.
"I haven’t run the ball much this year, so teams don’t always look for it," Fabian said. "When they went man, I was able to get some extra yards."
Not only did Fabian run the ball well, but also his overall effort at quarterback was solid. Fabian finished with a team high 85 yards rushing.
"Mark has been taking a lot of heat on why this team isn’t moving the ball," McCulloch said. "And he is probably the hardest on himself. But I think he showed where his heart is today."
For Fabian, the long pass was the exclamation point to the solid running.
"We had three chances to go deep in the game and missed them," Fabian said. "I blamed myself for the three throws. It really loosened things up when we finally connected on one."
The Screaming Eagles won the battle of total yards, 381-365, but the Vikings completely won the fourth quarter battle. Valley City State scored 21 points in the quarter and picked off Huron’s quarterback Keldric Strokes once. Stokes was held to just 4-0f-17 passing for 117 yards.
Walker finished with 73 yards on 14 carries and Kuznia had 128 yards on five catches.
Next week the Vikings will travel to Dickinson State (5-0) to face the #4 ranked Bluehawks.