After racing out to a 19-point lead, and then letting some listless play allow Swanton to come back to within 19-14 at the half, Aaron Schmidt and his Evergreen staff of coaches had to make some adjustments at the break.
Was it corrections or called out?
Whatever it was, Evergreen came out with a vengeance in the second half, blasting out to a 40-14 lead before claiming a 40-20 win to move to 3-2 on the season.
Swanton fell to 2-3.
“We challenged them defensively,” Schmidt said smiling regarding his halftime talk. “We were sitting back and we weren’t very aggressive, especially on the edge in our corners. We challenged them and they were much better in the second half.”
Evergreen looked as if they would run off early as they scored three straight times in a span of six minutes in the first half.
Jack Krispin’s 15-yard catch and run, and a 12-yard jaunt by Hunter Vanwert set up Jack Etue’s nine yard dash around the left side to give the Vikes a 7-0 lead with 5:38 left in the first quarter.
After a fumbled exchange in the Bulldog backfield was recovered by the Vikings’ David Carroll, it took only 86 seconds for Evergreen to find the end zone again as Hunter Svoboda made a leaping catch of an Etue pass, over a Bulldog defender in the corner of the end zone, to make it 13-0.
The Vikings stopped a fake punt on a 4th-and-12 situation at their own 47 and set sail again.
Etue found Svoboda on a short slant, and sped 30 yards to the Swanton 22 to put Evergreen just outside the red zone.
“He was kind of nicked up earlier in the week,” Schmidt said of Svoboda.”He didn’t get a bunch of reps and we weren’t sure what we would get out of him but, yeah man, he came out and had a great game and made some plays.”
Vanwert scampered 21 yards to the four, and two plays later, Chandler Lumbrezer made a catch fully extended in the end zone for a 19-0 Viking lead with 9:53 left in the half.
Isaiah Ziegler recovered a fumble on the kickoff to set Evergreen up again, but then the Vikings went stagnate and Swanton took advantage.
A false start, a missed open receiver and a sack gave Swanton a chance.
Dylan Gilsdorf’s 13-yard run in which he eluded a sack put the ball at midfield.
Two plays later under a heavy rush, Gilsdorf chucked one downfield, and after a Viking defender whiffed on the interception, the ball found its way to Justyn Bartlett who carried it in from 56 yards out to put Swanton on the board with 5:07 left in the half.
Two Etue to Svoboda passes for first downs helped Evergreen get into Swanton territory, but a fumbled option pitch was recovered by Derek Floyd to put Swanton in business again.
Eleven plays later, keyed by Bartlett’s 23-yard run off a jet sweep, Tyler Gowing found the end zone from a yard out on the last play of the half to slice the Viking lead to 19-14.
A personal foul on that play carried over to the second half and with Evergreen kicking from their own 25 to start the half, Viking sophomore Jacob Riggs came up with a big play as the Vikes squib kick was fumbled and the sophomore running back recovered at the Bulldog 38.
Vanwert, running with a purpose, blasted his way for 24 yards, then blew through two Bulldog tackles the final 14 to put Evergreen up 26-14 34 seconds into the second half.
Then, Svoboda’s tackle for an eight yard loss forced a Swanton punt to give Evergreen possession at their own 15.
“Offensively he made some plays and defensively he did too,” Schmidt said of his senior corner. “He had a big tackle for loss and handful of others that shut down that sweep in the second half.”
Nick Beemer’s catch and run for 23, and Vanwert’s 30 yard dash, set up Etue’s short pass to Lumbrezer who with the help of Bryce Hudik’s block on the edge found paydirt from 16 yards out to extend the lead to 33-14 with 3:30 left in the third.
The rejuvenated Evergreen defense led by Jace Jenkins’ four tackles for a loss held Swanton to just 65 second half yards and only 25 on the ground.
“We talked about what Liberty Center did last week, and Swanton tried to do the same thing. They were leaving our defensive tackles and doubling our middle linebacker (Beemer). They were challenging Jace and saying, ‘hey you can’t make plays’, and he did a nice job.”
After a Bulldog punt, Evergreen got one more when Lumbrezer took an Etue slant pass, outrunning everyone to the end zone from 76 yards away to make it 40-14 with about six minutes left.
Devon Crouse got one back for Swanton with 1:15 left, intercepting a Tanner Pollard pass and scampering 38 yards against the grain for a score.
For the game, Vanwert ran for 139 yards on 24 carries, and Etue threw for 210 as Evergreen amassed 365 total yards.
Gilsdorf threw for 110 – 56 on the touchdown to Bartlett – while the Bulldogs ran for 116 more. Furthermore, 131 of the 226 yards the Bulldogs got came in the second quarter.
Evergreen hosts Delta Friday night, while Swanton hosts Patrick Henry.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org