Big second half boosts Vikings past Tigers, 27-7

By Joe Blystone - For the Expositor and Enterprise

There was a touchdown that was called back.

Then a pass intereception in the end zone.

There was a missed field goal, an extra point that clanged off an upright, a dropped touchdown pass, and enough penalties to fill a shopping cart on a weekly coupon day that left Evergreen up only 6-0 at the half against North Baltimore Friday.

However rather than being frustrated, Aaron Schmidt’s Evergreen Vikings battled past all that adversity to dominate the second half on a night where the heat index was in the mid-90s, scoring three straight times and rolled to a 27-7 opening night win over North Baltimore.

The Tigers’ score came with just 43 ticks left in the game against the Vikes second and third level players.

“We made an intentional focus that we would be in better shape,” explained Schmidt of his team weathering the heat on the Vikings’ turf. “Coach (Joe) Okos came in and instituted a lot of stuff for us and instantly made an impact conditioning wise. we have smaller numbers this year (32 athletes), and we wanted to make sure eveyone was ready to go.

“That was the difference in the second half, we wanted to put the pedal to the metal and I think that was the big difference.”

Payton Boucher’s 42-yard pitch and run to Riley Dunbar put the Vikes inside the Tiger 40 early in the first.

However, a holding penalty on another big gain nullified the play and snuffed out the drive.

Sam Worline and Diesel Stoykoff combined for a sack to help set the Vikings up with primo field position at the Tiger 42 after a punt.

From there, Boucher hit Landen Vance for nine and Dunbar for seven, Connor Hewson ran for a pair of first downs and Boucher finished off the scoring drive from five yards out to give Evergreen a 6-0 lead late in the first.

But, that would be it for the half.

Dunbar’s pick and return gave Evergreen another shot starting at the Tiger 29 and two Boucher to Dunbar passes put the ball at the two.

However on Boucher’s scoring jaunt, the Vikings were called for holding and on the ensuing play, Boucher made his only mistake of the night as Johnny Hagemyer intercepted his toss in the end zone.

A missed 32-yard field goal that was plenty long enough, but was wide right stopped the Vikings from adding on the next drive.

However in the second half, Evergreen righted almost all wrongs.

“That’s what we talked about, we aren’t perfect and when you make mistakes, it’s all about how you come back from the mistakes and how you handle them,” expressed Schmidt. “It’s how you handle adversity and make adjustments. We had people make mistakes all over the place, but then had opportunity to make amends for them and they did. The most important thing is that you aren’t defined by your mistakes but by how you handle them.”

On their second possession, Boucher started a 44-yard drive with an 11-yard scamper, then hit Vance and Hewson with passes down to the two where the senior quarterback took it in for his second score and a 13-0 lead.

That stood until early in the fourth when on a North Baltimore punt, the snap sailed over the punter’s head and when Vance crushed the kicker who turned runner, the ball came free and Mossing scooped up the pigskin and romped 24 yards to paydirt, giving Evergreen a 20-0 margin.

Boucher’s 22-yard run set up his third TD of the night, another blast from five yards out to push the lead to 27-0.

“There were some things we talked about at half, and we did challenge our o-line,” said Schmidt. “They started awesome, controlling the line of scrimmage but we had a letup in the second quarter.

“We really challenged them in the second half and our guys controlled the line on both sides.”

Gunnar Kepling’s two-yard run kept the Tigers from being shutout.

For the game, Boucher threw for 182 yards on 17-21 and gained another 59 on the ground.

Vance caught seven aerials for 85 yards and Dunbar had five catches for 77.

Evergreen travels to Montpelier Friday night to play the Locomotives.

By Joe Blystone

For the Expositor and Enterprise