Old question is, “ya want the bad news, or the good news first”?
Since most folks want to end on a positive, let’s go bad news first for Evergreen Friday night at Pifer field against rival Delta.
Bad news, the Panthers ran for over 200 yards – including 128 in the first half – and chewed up massive quantities of clock.
Good news, the Vikes blocked a field goal and stuffed the Panthers on a goal line stand to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard.
Bad news, Viking quarterback Jack Etue was tackled for a safety for the Panthers’ only points and fumbled twice deep in Panther territory.
Good news, the same Jack Etue threw for 243 yards and two scores.
The good news outweighed the bad as the Vikings scored a 24-2 NWOAL win to move to 4-2 on the season. The Panthers fell to 2-4.
It took just 76 seconds for Evergreen to find the end zone as after Hunter VanWert picked up 15 on the ground on the first play of the game, Chandler Lumbrezer took Etue’s dart through the middle and sprinted 64 yards for a score to put the Vikes up 6-0.
However, that was it for the rest of the first half as Delta, mostly in the form of JD Osborn, controlled the clock on the ground.
Osborn carried seven times for 31 yards and Kai Fox added a 19-yard burst on the Panthers’ first drive that rolled to the Viking 8.
Evergreen stiffened, giving up just a yard and Tyler McCullough’s 24-yard field goal was swatted away by Nick Beemer to keep Delta off the board.
After back-to-back punts, it was Osborn again, this time finding a crease inside and rambling 38 yards before he was caught from behind at the Evergreen 31.
Seven plays later, in a fourth down situation from the 15, Dawson Swicegood’s pass under pressure was badly underthrown, but a pass interference penalty gave Delta new life at the seven.
Osborn’s two carries gave the Panthers a third-and-goal at the one, and this was where the Viking interior stiffened and denied Swicegood twice on sneak attempts to again turn away the Panthers.
“The defense did an awesome job tightening up when we needed them to,” said Viking coach Aaron Schmidt. “We bent and bent but we didn’t break. We made some big plays in our own red zone. I was really impressed with the resilience of our kids.”
However, on the first play after, Etue was tackled behind the goal line for a safety, putting the Panthers on the board.
Late in the half, VanWert’s 20-yard run and Etue’s 17-yard pass to Lumbrezer gave Evergreen the ball at the Panther 27, but Etue lost the ball on the next play to stop that drive.
Tristan Saeger’s pick of a deflected pass in Delta territory stopped the next Viking drive that ended the half.
Osborn’s 26-yard run was one of seven more carries that got Delta to the Evergreen 15 in a third-and-3 to start the half, but his next two carries gained just a yard, as the Vikes again created a turnover on downs.
“Don’t get me wrong, Delta is a good team,” said Schmidt. “They came out early and out-physicaled us up front. But again we did a nice job of making plays when we had to make them.”
This time it was Evergreen in control of the clock, using an Etue to Jack Krispin 17-yard aerial, and two more Lumbrezer catches for first downs to get the Vikings to the delta 30, where Lumbrezer on an option pass found Krispin all alone to put Evergreen up 12-2 with 2:39 left in the quarter.
David Carroll’s pick of a Swicegood pass set Evergreen up at the Delta 45 before the end of the quarter.
Trent Coopshaw ate up 23 yards in a pair of totes but a bad snap pushed the Vikes back 16 yards on a second-and-goal from the Delta 9.
After consecutive pass interference calls, Etue was stripped of the ball at the 7 and the Panthers fell on it to end the scoring threat.
However, Evergreen got the ball right back when Ike Yunker fell on a Shawn Cook fumble at the Delta 41.
Fifteen yard runs by Coopshaw and VanWert, and Bryce Hudik’s 18-yard catch, set up Coopshaw’s one yard run that gave the Vikings an 18-2 lead with 9:22 left.
After the Panthers went for it on a fourth-and-4 at their own 31, VanWert took Etue’s screen pass and bolted 30 yards for a score to put the game away.
In all the Vikings threw for 294 yards and rushed for 59.
Etue was 14 for 21, getting his 243 yards and the aforementioned two scores.
“Jack is a good quarterback,” Schmidt explained regarding his passing attack. “He’s a third year starter and coming of age. They were stacking the box and taking Hunter away from us and I know Hunter didn’t have a great stat line but the best thing he did was bring more guys in the box and we had more opportunity to throw the ball.”
VanWert carried for 55 on 11 carries to lead the Viking running attack. Lumbrezer led six Viking pass receivers with 140 yards on seven catches.
Osborn picked up 149 on 25 rushes to lead the Panthers but the Vikings allowed just five yards in the air.
Evergreen (4-2, 2-1 NWOAL) travels to Patrick Henry Friday night while the Panthers (2-4, 0-3) host the Bryan Golden Bears.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com