Vikings open with solid win at Peru State

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

PERU, Neb. -- It's too early to declare that the Vikings are back to their old form, but at least they didn't open the football season with a loss, as they did past two years.

Missouri Valley College scored the first 24 points and the defense contained Peru State's triple option offense Saturday for a 27-14 victory in a Heart of America Conference interdivisional contest.

Valley had lost three of its last four meetings with the Bobcats, allowing an average of 288.5 rushing yards per game. This time, Peru State was held to 88 yards on the ground, the fewest the Vikings have yielded against it since a 13-0 shutout in 2011.

Meanwhile, Valley pounded the turf for 174 net yards, with junior Briquez Alvies scoring the game's first three touchdowns during a 109-yard performance -- 39 yards on the opening drive. Senior quarterback Jake Bridges had a 25-yard bootleg and threw a 9-yard pass to senior James Denton to set up Alvies' 3-yard touchdown run.

Junior Nadir Hazly recovered a Bobcat fumble in home territory and Valley struck quickly, sophomore Wayne Grant hauling in a 27-yard Bridges pass and Alvies taking the ball the remaining 14 yards.

The Vikings forced a three-and-out, but after a 43-yard penalty set them up inside the 10-yard line, Bridges threw the first of three interceptions. Senior Victor Hubbard made the pick at the Peru State 1-yard line, but Valley stuffed three runs and senior Tahje Hartley blocked a punt.

The Vikings recovered at the PSC 3 and Alvies barged into the end zone from two yards out. The Bobcats' next series ended in another blocked punt, by Grant, returned 44 yards by junior Tyler Davis. Senior Austin Johnson cashed in with a 24-yard field goal.

Peru State put together its first sustained drive of the game, but it nearly ended if not for senior Noah Kasbohm's 40-yard touchdown pass to junior Tajh Eaddy on fourth down.

The Bobcats got the ball back with 3:30 left in the half and drove 41 yards on 11 plays to the Valley 19 before Hazly intercepted a Kasbohm pass with 16 seconds to go.

The second half was all about defense, the Vikings losing the opening possession on a pick by senior Robert Tilman. Valley stopped the 'Cats on downs nearly midfield and Bridges connected with junior Cortdarrians Woods for 27 yards, getting into range for a 45-yard Johnson field goal.

Peru State moved the ball 69 yards on 14 plays, but were stuffed after reaching the Viking 6-yard line. Freshman Colton Wilmes tackled a runner for a 2-yard loss, Kasbohm was held to two yards by senior Myles Campbell and junior Mekhi Burnley on a quarterback keeper and junior John Brady missed a 28-yard kick to the left.

Bridges ran for 14 yards and completed four passes for 36 yards, to reach the 19-yard line before junior Travis Reed stepped in front a throw in the end zone. Valley's defense got the ball back on a punt, but on the first play senior Jordan Willis stripped the ball from Bridges and rumbled 54 yards for a TD, closing the margin to two touchdowns with 7:27 remaining in the game.

The Vikings chewed up 5:39 of the clock with a drive which reached the Peru State 20 before running out of downs with 1:21 left. The Bobcats (0-1) only had the ball 27 seconds before senior Kevin Thorman intercepted and Valley ran out the clock.

The victory over a recent nemesis was gratifying, but the Vikings (1-0) made enough mistakes to leave plenty of room for improvement. Fortunately, they'll open at home Saturday against a Clarke club that was shellacked by Central Methodist 49-19 to inaugurate its new program.

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