Vikings rally falls short

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

CENTERBURG - The Symmes Valley Vikings would make good ditch diggers.

The Vikings dug themselves a hole too deep to recover as they fell 30-20 to the Centerburg Trojans Saturday in the Division VI Region 23 quarterfinals.

Centerburg held a 27-6 lead late in the third quarter when the Vikings stormed back to within a touchdown. But the Trojans managed to hold on for the win.

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"I'm really pleased with the way our kids came back in the ball game. We had some things that worked against us and the kids just kept digging and digging," Vikings coach Rusty Webb said. "We were still in the game."

Centerburg (8-3) used a ball control offense that rushed 50 times for 272 yards and threw an additional 11 times that generated 34 more yards. The Vikings ran just 28 times for 101 yards and quarterback Craig Neal hit 6-of-17 passes for 168 yards. Derek Carpenter ran twice for 50 yards to lead the Vikings ground game.

"They did to us what we've done to everyone else this year. They had the ball and didn't give it up. We had our chances, we just didn't convert," Webb said. "Our backs ran hard, but with our style of offense, we just didn't get the ball enough."

Justin Potter lugged the ball 33 times for 159 yards and quarterback Andy Ellis added 86 yards on 10 carries for the Trojans.

"They were pretty good up front and they executed their offense, and we didn't. We'd start to get things going, but we just didn't finish them off," Webb said. "It was like our other loss. We shot ourselves in the foot."

The Vikings scored on the game's opening drive aided by Carpenter's 49-yard run. Cory Burcham went the final yard for the touchdown and it was 6-0.

Centerburg came back to take a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter on a 1-yard run by Porter. Chris Scott kicked the conversion.

The lead grew to 13-6 on a pass from Ellis to Potter with 3:18 left in the half.

Ellis had a 5-yard scoring run to cap a drive to open the second half and the lead was 19-6. Wide receiver Kevin Thompson had a 10-yard touchdown run on a reverse and Ellis threw to Potter for the conversion and a 27-6 lead with 4:05 left in the third quarter.

Symmes Valley came to life as Burcham returned the ensuing kickoff to the Centerburg 45-yard line. Moments later, Neal hooked up with Derrek Cremeans on a 36-yard pass play. Neal added the conversion run and it was 27-14.

The Vikings closed the gap to 27-20 when Burcham clicked with Neal on a 59-yard pass play with 4:01 to play.

But the Trojans were able to recover the onside kickoff and eat three minutes off the clock until Scott sealed the win with a 25-yard field goal with 58 seconds to play.

Webb said the fans had a part in the comeback.

"I'd like to thank the fans who made their way up to the game. Our crowd was great. They inspired us to make our comeback."

Despite the disappointing loss, Webb said the Vikings have plenty to celebrate.

"We're disappointed with the loss, but we don't want this to take away from the season We were 9-2 and league champs again, and we have a lot of positive things to build on for next year," Webb said.