Vikings pick up a heart-pounding 44-39 win

   Heart-pounding over the top excitement is the only way to describe Ventura’s football game Friday night against Graettinger-Terril.  A total of 11 touchdowns were scored in the game, 4 in the fourth quarter alone, a game-saving touchdown was made in the final :51 seconds of play and a key interception were all part of the adrenalin rush, as the Vikings topped the Knights, 44-39.

    Ryan Schmitz got the excitement underway in the first quarter with a 58-yard quarterback keeper for the first touchdown, 6-0.  G-T answered that touchdown with one of their own for a 7-6 first quarter lead.
    Schmitz opened the second quarter with a fumble on the five-yard line, but he corrected that with a 15-yard run for another Viking TD and the lead, 12-7.  Joel Watson was next to find the endzone with a six-yard pass from Schmitz, 18-7.  The Knights scored with :29 seconds left in the half.  Ventura took an 18-13 lead into the break.
    Ventura’s Jace Byers blocked a punt giving the Vikings possession on the 13-yard line to open the second half, but a fumble on the five yard line was recovered by the Knights.  The Knights scored in the third quarter and took a one point lead, 19-18.  Schmitz connected on a  45-yard TD strike to James Stephenson for a 24-19 third quarter lead for the Vikings.
    It was a scoring frenzy in the fourth quarter, with both teams collecting 20 points apiece.  Schmitz once again scored on a 15-yard run, 30-19.  The Knights picked up their game and scored, 30-25.  Schmitz returned a 68-yard kick-off for a touchdown and he kept it again for the two-point conversion, 38-25.  The Knight’s got busy with a TD, a recovered onside kick, which they scored on and a completed two-point conversion to take a one-point lead, 39-38, with :51 seconds remaining on the clock. 
    The Viking’s weren’t about to give up, however, as they marched the ball down the field and Schmitz found Watson in the endzone on a 20-yard pass giving the Viking’s a 44-39 lead with :20 seconds left on the clock.  The Knight’s were moving the ball down the field, when Watson leaped into the air and pulled in a key interception that ended the game.
    “I think the guys fought hard and really wanted to win this one,” said Coach Mark Pueggell.  “Being down with :51 seconds left to play, they could have given up on this one, but they didn’t.”
    Schmitz had a tremendous game for the Vikings, having a hand in every touchdown scored. He was 9/13 passing for 134 yards and he was the leading rusher with 234 yards on 28 carries.  On defense, he collected 10 tackles, one sack and one interception.
    “Our offensive line gave Ryan plenty of time in the pocket to complete passes and they opened up some nice running lanes for him, as well,” said Pueggel.
    Watson also had a good night.  He was the leading receiver with six receptions for 75-yards and two touchdowns.  He had 17 carries for 73-yards on the ground.  Watson was the leader on defense with 19 tackles, one sack and one interception.
    Stephenson had two catches good for 49-yards and one touchdown.  Zach Zwiefel also had a catch for 10-yards.
    Other defensive leaders included Byers with 13 tackles. Chase Smith and Brandon Luscombe had seven tackles apiece and Colton Knutson and Logan Ryerson each had six tackles.  Ryerson also had a sack.
    “I felt the momentum shift back and forth the entire game, but we were able to put together several good drives and pick up the win,” said Pueggel.
    The Vikings are home on Friday night against Tripoli.  Game time is 7 p.m.

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