Maybe it was the fact after a Friday night lightning storm pushed the game back a day.
Maybe it was the one o’clock start.
But instead of making excuses, let’s just say it like it was.
Delta ran harder and took advantage of Evergreen dropping the ball on the ground for two scores.
But in the end, the Vikings put together a go-ahead fourth quarter drive, then held off the Panthers in the last two minutes to record a 30-24 win to move to 4-1 on the year Saturday in Northwest Ohio Athletic League football.
Delta is winless after five games.
“There were a lot of things that didn’t go our way early,” Viking coach Aaron Schmidt said. “We turned the ball over three times in the first quarter and put ourselves behind the eight ball when we could’ve got up on them and continued to have momentum. All the credit in the world to Delta. Their kids played hard, they ran the ball hard, they tackled well.
“Our kids handled that adversity and realized that we put ourselves in this position (behind in the fourth quarter). It would’ve been easy to put our heads down but they didn’t do that and were resilient. We found a way to get the ball in the end zone and make plays at the end.”
It took the Vikings just four plays to get into Delta territory to open the game but Jack Etue laid the ball on the grass and Nick Mazurowski covered up for the Panthers to kill the drive.
However, Etue returned the favor on the very next play, picking a Mazurowski pass to give Evergreen the ball right back. Then on the first play following the Panther giveaway, the Vikings’ quarterback sprinted 48 yards for a score to give the Vikings the lead at 7-0.
After a three-and-out, Evergreen looked to add on, but Jacob Riggs muffed the Panther punt and Evan Perry recovered, giving Delta possession at the Viking 47. On the third play of that drive, the Panthers got right back in the game as Josh Tresnan-Reighard found a gap on the left side and went 43 yards for a score.
The point after was muffed, keeping the score at 7-6.
The next break for the Panthers came near the end of the first quarter when after Riggs caught a pass for first down yardage, he lost the handle on the pigskin and Austin Michael fell on it at the Evergreen 46.
A defensive holding penalty carried the ball to the Viking 20 where three Tresnan-Reighard runs picked up eight yards to give Delta a fourth-and-two at the 12.
On the fourth down play, again the Panthers went to Tresnan-Reighard and he slipped a tackle and went the final 12 yards to put Delta up 12-7 with 11:09 left in the half.
Payton Boucher returned the kickoff to midfield and on the third play, Etue found a hole and outraced the Delta secondary for a 41-yard score.
Etue’s pass to Riggs on the two-point try was good giving the Vikings a 15-12 margin.
Delta put together a 14-play drive keyed mostly by Tresnan-Reighard and Jaydin Salyers to get to the Evergreen 36.
But Jadine Young stuffed the outside screen for a five yard loss and Riggs picked off Tresnan-Reighard’s option pass to end the Panther threat.
Passes to Jack Krispin and Tristan Cordrey for 26 yards got Evergreen to the Delta 49.
Etue’s 33-yard jaunt got the ball to the six to set up an Alex Peete field goal try.
The kick was blocked but an inadvertent officials’ whistle before anyone had acquired possession gave Evergreen another chance.
This time the Vikings disdained the field goal and Etue went around the left side for a score to make it 22-12 at the break.
After two short runs to open the third, Mazurowski faked into the line and lofted a pass that found a wide open DJ Davis for a 64-yard score to get Delta within 22-18.
Later in the quarter after a Viking punt gave Delta possession at the Evergreen 19, the Vikings bit on the inside fake and Davis had nothing but green grass on the reverse for an 81-yard score with 3:36 left in the quarter to put the Panthers on top 24-22.
With Evergreen in need of a stop in the fourth quarter, they got one as Levi Moore and Logan York stuffed two Panther runs and Nick Beemer recorded a tackle for a loss to force a Panther punt with over seven minutes left.
Etue hit Beemer for a first down, then after a holding penalty wiped out another first down, Landon Vance’s diving catch regained the 10 yards and Krispin’s catch over the top picked up 18 more to the Delta 34.
Etue’s 26-yard run put the ball at the Delta 8 where on the third play, Krispin blasted in for the score with 4:29 to go.
After an offensive pass interference on a good two-point try moved the ball back to the 18, Vance’s leaping catch on the try put the Vikings up 30-24.
“It was a lot of kids making plays before the score,” Schmidt said of the last drive. “We had to make plays and Landon Vance’s catch got us back to makeable yardage for a first down. Krispin’s catch on third and long was big. Those plays extended the drive after first-and-20.”
Delta had one more chance as consecutive 13 yard runs by Tresnan-Reighard and Salyers put the ball at the Evergreen 19.
From there, the Vikings stuffed the Panthers for two yards on four plays to take over.
There was still drama as on a third-and-10 with time running out, Etue broke loose but slid down a yard short of the first down marker.
Still having to run a play on fourth down, Schmidt elected to go for it at his own 28 and Krispin bulled his way for three yards to put the game away.
“We had kids making big plays at the end,” explained Schmidt of the stop in the red zone. “We fired off well and tackled well. I think our kids said to themselves, ‘enough, we have to makes some plays’.”
For the game, Evergreen accumulated 336 yards total with Etue gaining 175 on the ground and going 8 for 13 for 111 in the air.
Delta had 305 total yards with the two plays by Davis accounting for 145 of those yards.
Tresnan-Reighard ran for 102 on 20 carries.
Evergreen hosts Patrick Henry (4-1) Friday, while Delta plays Bryan (1-4) on the road.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org