On a beautiful October night, where we all expected a run-dominated ball game, the Chapman Irish advance to the second round of the playoffs over the Smoky Valley Vikings. Both teams tonight are vastly powered by their ground game, and the defensive seemed to scheme well early on. After trading possessions, the Vikings found the endzone first with 2:35 left in the first quarter. Karson Pihl took a broken play up the middle for 34 yards and a touchdown. The point-after pass attempt was no good, starting the scoring battle 6-0 in favor of the Vikings.
Chapman came out roaring after that, controlling time of possession and the scoreboard as they added a touchdown just 6 seconds into the second quarter. On a night where the Irish racked up 439 rushing yards, Trevor Mead got it rolling with a 6-yard touchdown run. The engine behind the Irish run game, Eli Riegel, added 2 more on the point after attempt. The Irish added to their 8-6 lead with 4:20 left in the first half on a 19-yard touchdown throw from Nicholas Anderson, and again it was Mead who found the endzone. The point after attempt was no good, leaving the Irish with a 14-6 lead.
Things got interesting in the last few minutes of the game, and it began with a 79-yard touchdown pass from Pihl to Justice, the Meerkat, Autry with 2:35 left in the half. Autry punched in the point after attempt to tie the game at 14 all.
On the next play from scrimmage, Chapman’s workhorse, Riegel, ran it in from 63 yards out. Riegel added another two after the score, spotting the Irish a 8 point lead, 22-14.
Knowing that the Irish got the ball back after the half, the Vikings knew they needed another score to keep things interesting. Marching down the field, after a big run by Pihl and a 29-yard pass from Pihl to Vincent Pickering, Smoky Valley capped off a magnificent drive on an 8-yard pass from Pihl to Haven Lysell-Stewart that finds the endzone. The point-after attempt was no good, leaving the Vikings trailing just 22-20 going into the half.
After an incredible half of football, the second half proved to be something completely different. Smoky Valley came out aggressive and recovered the ensuing kickoff on a beautiful onside kick by Trevor Jones. Nolan Dauer recovered the ball, giving the Vikings possession on the Chapman 48-yard line. What looked to be momentum for the Vikings, flipped quickly as Mason Barnum caused a fumble and Chapman recovered on the Smoky 47-yard line.
That momentum proved to be all Chapman needed, as they dominated the second half by a score of 28-0. Riegel added touchdown runs at the 10:06 and 2:20 marks of the third quarter as well as another with 7:56 left in the 4th. Nicholas Anderson punched one in with 1:29 left in the game as well, adding another 2 on the conversion after. The final score ended at 50-20 in favor of the Chapman Irish.
For the Irish, they totaled 484 yards of offense, 45 in the air and 439 on the ground. Anderson ended 2-4 passing for 45 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Riegel led the way on the ground with 39 attempts for 269 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tate Milton added 69, Mead added 62 and a score, and Anderson added another 39 with a score of his own. Mason Barnum led the way on defense with 6 tackles.
Smoky Valley finished with 321 yards of total offense, 207 passing and 114 rushing. Karson Pihl had a great night, completing 12 passes on 20 attempts for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns. Pihl was the Vikings’ leading rusher as well, with 67 yards and a touchdown. Autry added 36 and Stambaugh had 11. Autry led the receiving core with a 79-yard score on his only possession. Pickering had 51 yards and Lysell-Stewart added 5 catches for 34 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Haven Lysell-Stewart and Justin Holt did everything they could to slow down the Irish, racking up 12.5 and 6.5 tackles respectively.
The Smoky Valley Vikings finish another winning season at a solid mark of 5-3. The now 7-2 Chapman Irish head to 9-0 Southeast of Saline next week to take on a team that has lit up the scoreboards this year for what should be a battle of a ballgame.