Vikings finish with loss at Benedictine

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

ATCHISON, Kan. — The Missouri Valley College football team was hoping to salvage something to show for a frustrating season Saturday, to no avail.

Benedictine put the Vikings out of their misery with a 37-0 Heart of America Conference South Division home win. Valley hung in until the third quarter, when the Ravens put the game beyond reach.

Although it was the first time in two years that the Vikings were shut out, the offensive woes were a recurring theme for the season. Of six first-half possessions, four ended in punts, one on downs and the last when time expired.

Benedictine drove to inside the visitors’ 30-yard line before being stopped on downs on its game-opening possession, got the ball back and then gave it away when senior Chase Ohm forced a fumble recovered by sophomore Shepherd Faiilagi at the Ravens’ 29-yard line, but came up short on fourth down and a yard to go at the 21.

Valley would get no closer. After an exchange of punts, Benedictine ran 15 plays before having to settle for a 30-yard field goal by junior Matt Heinrich. A short punt set the Ravens up for their next series at the MVC 44, scoring on the third play with junior Luke Laskowski’s 29-yard pass to senior Alex Blake.

The Vikings moved the ball on their final possession of the half, junior Darrion Cole picking up first downs on runs of 16 and 21 yards, but the halftime horn sounded with them at the BC 24.

However, the contest was still competitive when the third quarter began with punts by both teams before Benedictine got a major break when senior Konnor Walker’s sack knocked the ball loose from Cole — who took only one more snap during the game — and recovered by senior James Mullen at the Vikings’ 5-yard-line, from where Laskowski found senior Ethan Bethard with a short toss on the next play.

The Ravens covered 63 yards on their next series, 33 yards on a Laskowski scramble. After converting on fourth down, Benedictine scored on a 3-yard run by senior Rayshon Mills.

A 24-yard reception by junior Austin Buteaux put the Ravens in Valley territory and they overcame a personal foul penalty on Laskowski’s 36-yard pass to Bechard.

Benedictine capped the scoring with five minutes remaining on senior Keegan Hoopes’ 2-yard plunge to finish a seven-play, 67-yard drive. The Ravens (7-1, 4-0 South) out-gained Valley for the game, 470 to 247 yards and will host Baker on Nov. 26 to decide the South Division championship.

The Vikings (1-6, 0-5) wound up in the divisional cellar for the second year in a row, suffering their fourth straight losing season with the fewest wins the program has recorded since 1996. Valley had a young team and the hope is that an extra year of eligibility, granted by the NAIA due to the coronavirus pandemic, may help turn its fortunes around.

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