Sep 10th, 2011 @ 7:52 pm | Author: Viking Sports Admin
By: Ryan Cunningham (NewsDakota.com)
DICKINSON (NewsDakota.com)–Once every 10 years is not often enough, but sometimes the wait brings sweet rewards.
With time running out, no time-outs left, and fourth-and-forever in front of his team, junior quarterback Tommy Zinke (Rolla, ND) bounced back from a sack by hitting LeTheo Proctor (Sr., Anchorage, AK) at the Dickinson State five-yard line with 1.3 seconds to play.
After clocking the ball, Zinke then found Nick Schoenecker (Soph., Eden Valley, MN) for a scoring strike on the game's last play, and the VCSU Vikings ended a decade-long streak of losses at Dickinson State with a 28-26 thriller.
The score capped 15 straight points for the Vikings, as they scored 21 of the matchup's final 27 points in the win, sending them to 1-1 this season, and dropping the once seventh-ranked Bluehawks to 0-3.
The final drive of the game was entwined with drama that began three possessions previous to the Viking winner.
With a 26-20 lead, the Bluehawks faced punting with just over five minutes remaining, but the snap rolled between the ankles of punter Sean Russell (Sr., Columbus, MT) and was recovered by Viking Tyler Meyer (Fr., Lidgerwood, ND) at the Dickinson State 20.
Valley City State drove to the Bluehawk five, but Zinke, trying to squeeze in the potential winning throw, was picked off by Jay Grosz (Jr., Mott, ND), seemingly ending the Viking hopes at a win.
The next play renewed that hope, as Bluehawk quarterback Dave Velasquez (Jr., Missoula, MT) was sacked a ball length outside of the endzone. After two sneaks, Dickinson State intentionally surrendered a safety with 1:45 left, dropping their lead to 26-22.
Russell, who bombed two punts of 50 yards or greater Saturday, and averaged 43.7 a kick in seven tries, booted a driving free kick to Proctor, and Proctor ran the ball to midfield. Zinke hit A.J. Pfeifer (Sr., Buffalo, ND) on a middle screen for 16 yards, moving to the Dickinson State 34.
The Vikings were then backed up by a false start penalty, threw two incompletions, and then saw Zinke take what looked to be a game-ending sack, forcing fourth down from well outside of scoring distance and less than a half-minute to play.
Zinke and Proctor, who connected on a 36-yard completion that set up the opening points of the day, did it again. Zinke heaved the ball to the Bluehawk five, and Proctor made the jump, ripping the ball away from a defender for a first down.
With no timeouts left, the Vikings raced to the line of scrimmage, and took their position waiting for the spot of the ball. As soon as the whistle blew, Zinke clocked the ball with two-tenths of a second left.
After the Bluehawks took a timeout, Zinke received a shotgun snap and hit Schonecker on a curl in the middle of the endzone, capping the comeback and starting the celebration. The last win at Dickinson State came in 2001, when the Vikings advanced to the NAIA playoffs.
Just as a highlight-reel Proctor catch set up the gamewinner, another set up the opening points of the game. He hauled in an-over-the-shoulder catch at the Bluehawk two, dragging a toe inbounds on the opening drive of the game. The catch was the second of five on the day, en route to a 125 yard performance with a score.
Pfeifer ended the opening drive with a two-yard dash, the first of his two scores on the day, and the Vikings led 7-0.
Special teams breakdowns forced the Vikings into bad positions after the score. A Bluehawk punt return that reached the Viking 20 set up a Kyle Hutchinson (Fr., Sheridan, WY) field goal, and a fumbled punt by the Vikings led to a 20-yard scoring drive, as Velasquez hit Presley Straub (Jr., Baker, MT) for a 19-yard strike, giving Dickinson State a 10-7 lead with 9:56 left of the first half.
The Bluehawks capped the first-half scoring with a 10-play, 67 yard march capped on a plunge by Velasquez from a yard out for a 17-7 hafltime lead.
Dickinson State appeared to take control of the game with a 15-play drive that took 7:55 seconds off the third-quarter clock and ended on a 35-yard Hutchinson field goal for a 20-7 lead.
Valley City State found their way back quickly, returning the ensuing kickoff to the Bluehawk 43. Zinke hit Proctor twice, first for eight yards, then on a post from 35 yards out that cut the Dickinson State lead to 20-13 with 6:11 left of the third. The possession took only 54 seconds.
Velasquez struck right back for the Bluehawks. He found receiver Tanner Leak (Jr., Columbus, MT), who had 20 catches in his first two games this season, for his only grab of the day, a 40-yard scoring toss, pushing the lead back to 13 at 26-13 with 3:10 left of the quarter.
Big chunks of yardage allowed the Vikings to find paydirt again before the third ran out. On their next drive, Zinke hit tight end Ken Eliacin (Jr., Miami, FL) for 27 yards, and Pfeifer followed for a 26 yard run on his way to 95 yards on the day, moving to the Bluehawk 10.
After a penalty, Zinke hit Pfeifer on a screen, and Pfeifer turned the corner and sprinted in for a score with 47 seconds left of a third quarter that featured 22 points between the two teams. The Vikings trailed 26-20 after three.
The Viking defense would surrender only one first down the rest of the way, and Jordan Maher (Sr., Bowman, ND) recorded the first quarterback sack of the season to finish an effort that held the Bluehawks to just 238 yards on the day. The Vikings racked up 412 yards.
Zinke finished 18-34 for 248 yards, three scores and one interception. Pfeifer added 40 yards and a score to his 95 and a score on the ground, bringing his total to 135 yards.
Velasquez ended the day 8-16 for 111 yards and a score. Jordan Scott (Sr., Phoeniz, AZ) rushed for 55 yards on 11 carries in the first half, but was lost in the second due to an injury. Brennan Haughian (Soph., Terry, MT) carried 23 times for 72 yards.
The Vikings host Dakota State Satuday night at Shelly Ellig Field at Lokken Stadium in Valley City. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m.