Rarely does one great play win or lose a football game.
But Friday night at Panther Stadium, three plays changed the course of the game and all three went in the favor of Delta in a 45-26 win over Evergreen to put both teams at 4-3 on the season.
The Vikings drew first blood halfway through the first quarter when Dylan Komisarek’s 38 yard catch and run set up Nick Etue’s six yard touchdown jaunt to give Evergreen a 6-0 lead.
Jesse Beverly’s blast of 20 and 22 yards through the middle of the Viking defense set up Evan Vasquez’ 31 yard field goal 27 seconds before the end of the quarter.
Beverly carried six times for 37 yards, including the last eight of a 45 yard drive to put Delta up for the first time, 10-6, at the 2:24 mark of the first half when the first of the three aforementioned plays happened two snaps later.
Etue’s second-and-1 pass bounced off the hands of a Viking receiver and into Beverly’s waiting arms, and the junior back went 38 yards to the end zone to boost Delta’s lead to 17-6.
Aided by two pass interference calls and Sean Higgins’ 32 yard catch, Evergreen found paydirt when Josh Laux hauled in an 11 yard pass from Etue with 34 seconds left in the half to chop the Panther advantage to 17-12 at the half.
After an exchange of punts to start the second half, speedster Bailey Storeholder took a screen pass from Noah Parsons in space, made an elusive one-on-one move and raced 51 yards to give Delta a 24-12 lead with 7:07 left in the third quarter.
Game changing play number two came in the form of an official’s call when the Vikings were forced to punt three plays later from their own 13.
Etue hit Peyton Pawlaczyk, who was lined up in the backfield with a pass off a fake punt for a 27 yard gain to the 40, but Pawlaczyk, whose number of 10 is an eligible receiver’s number, was called for being ineligible.
Not only did the Vikings lose five yards on the penalty, but the flag also carried a loss of down which gave the Panthers a first and goal at the Evergreen 8.
Instead of the Vikings driving, Dylan Rogers scored on the second play from the five to put the Panthers up 31-12.
Evergreen came back just into the fourth quarter, as Etue hit Komisarek and Laux for three straight first down passes before finding Tyler Noe in the end zone from 17 yards out, and with the two-point conversion, the Vikings had cut the score to 31-20.
The Vikes seemed to grab momentum all the way when on the next Panther series, Komisarek stripped Beverly of the ball and Pawlaczyk recovered on the Viking 43.
A roughing the passer penalty and Etue’s 15 yard run helped the Vikings get to the Delta 27 when the third of the game changing plays proved to be the dagger.
On third-and-4 Etue rolled left and threw to the end zone where Storeholder picked off the pass and set up a Delta time consuming drive.
Beverly’s 32 yard run on a third-and-2 was the key play that set up Rogers’ 21 yard burst that put the game away, giving Delta a 38-20 lead with 3:45 left.
For the game, the Panthers ran for 289 of their 361 total yards with Beverly picking up 168 on 26 carries.
Etue was 20 for 36 f0r 268 yards and two scores, but also tossed four interceptions.
Evergreen returns home Friday to Pifer Field to play Patrick Henry. Delta travels to Bryan.
Joe Blystone can be reached at [email protected]