BRYAN – When Evergreen left for Bryan Friday night, they were sent off by a good size group of mothers and fans.
That same group plus a number more greeted them arriving home after the Vikings rolled up 348 yards in offense, including a 21-play 80-yard second half drive that consumed almost 10 minutes, to take down Bryan 25-14 to move to 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in the NWOAL.
The game was called with 2:08 left in the contest due to continuous lightning.
“It feels pretty good right now to be where we are,” said Evergreen coach Paul Amstutz. “We’ve come a long way in three years.”
The Vikings defense got Evergreen out of trouble early when thanks to a 26-yard punt return by Josh Jones, the Bears set up at the Viking 32.
However, after three straight Damon Beltz runs picked up a first down, the Vikings’ Peyton Pawlaczyk dove on a Bear fumble to stop the drive.
After Evergreen put the Bears offense out in three plays the next drive, the Vikings set sail from their own 35.
Quarterback Nick Etue hit Josh Laux twice, Sean Higgins, Levi Carson and Laux again on a fourth down play to pick up first downs before diving in himself from the four to give Evergreen a 7-0 advantage with 8:22 left in the half.
“I believe that drive that took almost seven minutes was really key because we finished it off,” said Amstutz. “And our defense really stepped up after that creating a lot of pressure on their quarterback and some turnovers.
The next two Bear drives were stopped by Etue interceptions, the second setting up a second Viking score.
With less than two minutes left in the half, Evergreen went into hurry-up mode and freshman Chandler Lumbrezer hauled in two first down catches over the middle, then Tyler Noe got free in the middle again with a 24-yard catch to give Evergreen a first down at the Bryan 11.
Two plays later Etue found Noe for a 6 yard strike with 32 seconds left in the half to make it 13-0 at the break.
Evergreen added on right away at the start of the second half when Bryan mishandled the pooch kickoff and Evergreen recovered at the Bear 45.
On the second play, Etue bounced outside and rolled 39 yards to paydirt to make in 19-0, 53 seconds into the third quarter.
After going three-and-out again, Bryan regained some momentum when on the second play from scrimmage, Etue’s pass bounced off a receivers’ shoulder pad and Brent Hall caught the ball in a scrum at the line of scrimmage to give Bryan position at the Evergreen 35.
Consecutive holding penalties pushed the ball back to their own 40 but escaping pressure, Bleus Creek found Jones down the sideline with a pass-and-catch that got the ball to the Viking 8, where Dave Rummel put the Bears on the board the next play to make it 19-7 with 6:42 left in the third.
From that point it was all Vikings for almost the next 10 minutes.
Included in the 80 yard march was a bit of give and take as Evergreen was penalized three times for holding, but the Bears gave in right back, being hit three times for late hits, including two very late hits on the quarterback that gave the Vikings automatic first downs.
“That drive was huge,” explained Amstutz, “That’s something we’ve been preaching a little bit, scoring while running the ball and running the clock. Hats off to our offensive line, they played well the whole night.”
Etue ran for 19 and Pawlaczyk 11 to start the drive, then the Vikings covered up a holding penalty on Dylan Komisarek’s 13 yard catch.
After the roughing the passer penalties moved the ball to the Bryan 9, Etue picked up seven more and a cheap shot out of bounds moved the ball closer to where Pawlaczyk scored with nine minutes left giving Evergreen a three yard score to lead at 25-7.
Creek’s 33 yard scramble got Bryan a first down at the Evergreen 15, but Cole Johnson sacked Creek for a 10 yard loss, then Sam Williamson and freshman Jace Jenkins tackled the Bear quarterback, losing eight more yards to stop the drive.
Bryan got a late score on a Creek 12 yard run before the lightning came and put an end to the contest.
Evergreen totaled 348 yards for the game as Etue was 26 for 37 for 220 passing and the Vikes ran 128 more.
Bryan did pick up 180 on the ground, many of those with Creek scrambling away from pressure for 77. The passing game netted 119.
The Vikings now are home against Liberty Center for an NWOAL contest this Friday.
Joe Blystone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org