For the first 15 minutes of Friday night’s game, the Evergreen Vikings were at a standstill offensively, getting only one first down, throwing an interception and going three plays and punting two more times.
In fact, Ottawa Hills actually took an 8-0 lead on a 10 play drive and a muddle huddle two point conversion.
Then in a 8:16 burst, the Vikes rattled off four scores, riding a 28 point second quarter in coasting to a 35-15 win to go to 3-0 for the first time in five years.
“We struggled at the beginning with reads more than anything,” explained Viking coach Paul Amstutz. “We kind of beat ourselves for a while, but once we settled in we were pretty good.”
The Bears took advantage of the Vikings ineptness on offense early and put together a 46 yard drive of their own, looking like Oklahoma or Nebraska teams of long ago, running the option all 10 plays capped by Victor Schlatter’s 2 yard run and a Peter Boice’ two point conversion run.
“We don’t see the triple option everyday, and all of a sudden when somebody runs it it’s all responsibility football,” explained Amstutz. “When one guy gets a little slack with his responsibility someone else tries to pick him up and that’s when they get you. When we got everyone to stay with their responsibility we were much better.”
Like a good slap in the face, that score woke the Vikings from their slumber mode.
Five plays after the kickoff, Nick Etue found Dylan Komisarek crossing the middle, and the senior wide receiver out ran a pair of Green Bears 68 yards to the end zone to chop the lead at 8-6.
After a first down, the Vikings forced a punt that died on the Evergreen 16.
It took just one play for the Vikes to find the end zone again as Tyler Noe took a handoff, pulled up and found Komisarek down the sideline for an 84 yard bomb that put Evergreen ahead 14-8.
That lead was short lived as a number of Vikings overran the kickoff and Ottawa Hills’ Jack Bassett went 75 yards for a quick six that gave the Green Bears their last lead at 15-14 with 5:47 left in the half.
Evergreen came right back as Etue ran 26 yards for a first down and Josh Laux scampered 13 more for another.
Laux hauled in a pass for another first down before the Ottawa Hills defense stiffened, setting up a 4th-and-13 from the 23.
Etue rolled left and found freshman Chandler Lumbrezer wide open in the middle of the end zone for the score that gave the Vikes the lead for good, 21-15.
The third play after that kickoff, Evergreen’s Tyler Coopshaw tipped a Griffin DeMilt pass and Peyton Pawlaczyk picked it off setting up the Vikes at the Ottawa Hills 33.
Evergreen made good with 21 seconds left when Laux hauled in a pass in the flat and froze a pair of Ottawa Hills defenders with a stop-and-go move and headed 20 yards into the end zone to increase the lead to 28-15 at the half.
Evergreen tacked on an insurance score early in the fourth when Noe went wide for a 12 yard run to bump the lead to 35-15.
In the meantime, Evergreen made the right adjustments on defense, allowing only 43 second half rushing yards, 30 of which came on a pair of DeMilt scrambles against the Vikes second unit late in the fourth quarter.
“I have to give a lot of credit to our kids because last year we struggled with the run,” said Amstutz. “This year we’ve buckled down and we’re doing pretty well.”
Evergreen totaled 454 yards in offense to 240 for Ottawa Hills.
Etue was 13 of 24 for 222 yards and three scores. He also threw two interceptions.
The Vikes also ran 148 yards in a balanced attack where Laux was the leading ball carrier with 48 yards in just three carries.
Ottawa Hills ran for 152 and DeMilt was 10 for 25 for 88 yards in the air.
Evergreen heads to Bryan Friday to open NWOAL play against the Golden Bears.
Joe Blystone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org