Sep 1st, 2011 @ 10:24 pm | Author: Viking Sports Admin
By: Ryan Cunningham (

VALLEY CITY (–While the Vikings found some positives to build on, a dominating running attack by Morningside spoiled the opening of Shelly Ellig Field Thursday night.

A 79-yard dash to paydirt by Dillon Robinson (Fr., Underwood, IA) punctuated a 311-yard rushing night for the Mustangs, as they sent the Vikings to a 35-17 loss in the season opener in Valley City.

Robinson's score came with 14:33 left of the fourth quarter, and effectively put the Vikings out of reach, with the Mustangs up 35-10. Valley City State would manage a late score to cut the deficit.

Despite the crushing yardage amassed by Mustang runners, head coach Dennis McCulloch was optimistic about the performance from some elements of the team.

'We moved the ball well. They (Morningside) were second in points allowed last year, 12 a game. We didn't know how we'd move the ball, and we had opportunities. Our offensive line protected really well tonight,' said McCulloch, who watched his team gain 361 yards against a defense that returned eight starters after allowing less than 250 a game a year ago.

The defense took hits, however. Lost to injury early were defensive end Garrett Jackson (Sr., Fairbanks, AK) and middle linebacker Alex Hooey (Jr., Fargo, ND). Those losses were felt each time Morningside carried the ball.

The Mustangs scored on their opening drive, marching 14 plays and 79 yards, scoring on a pass from Jordan Jacupke (Soph, Hastings, NE) to Joel McCabe (Soph, Jefferson, SD). Their second score came on an 11 play, 67 yard drive, with Jacupke scrambling to keep the drive alive, and Fred Jones (Jr., Stockton, CA) finishing from nine yards out.

Jones score pushed the Mustangs to a 14-3 lead with 5:50 left of the opening. He finished the night with 20 carries for 125 yards, giving Morningside two runners with over 100 yards. Robinson finished the night with 137 on 13 carries.

A 39-yard dash by Jones on Morningside's next dive set up their third score. Robinson would race into the endzone from 14 yards away for a 21-3 lead with 1:14 left of the half.

The Vikings would get a big play to get them back within striking distance before the break. With 20 seconds left, Tommy Zinke (Jr., Rolla, ND) threw the ball to the back of the endzone for LeTheo Proctor (Sr., Anchorage, AK). Mustang defender Colby Henderson had the coverage, and was the first to get his hands on the ball.

Before Henderson could land, Proctor jumped over Henderson's shoulder, got his hands on the ball, and forced a simultaneous possession as the players came to the ground. Proctor then wrestled the ball from Henderson for a dramatic touchdown. The Vikings trailed 21-10 at the break.

The energy was short-lived. The Vikings would fail to recover an onside kick to start the second half, and Jones went to the house on just the fourth play of Morningside's possession, pushing the lead to 28-10 with only 1:17 of the third quarter gone. Robinson's run a half-minute into the fourth sealed the deal for the nation's fifth-ranked team.

Zinke would drive the Vikings one last time for a four-yard strike to Nick Schoenecker (Soph, Eden Valley, MN) with 2:00 left for the final of 35-17.

Zinke finished 26-44 for 267 yards. He threw two interceptions to go with the two scoring throws. Proctor caught eight balls for 84 yards and a score. A.J. Pfeifer (Sr., Buffalo, ND) rushed for 48 yards on 19 carries.

Jacupke was an efficient 11-20 for 111 yards and a score. He also rushed for 42 yards for the Mustangs.

The Vikings face Dickinson State at Dickinson next Saturday afternoon.