Backfield balance keys Vikings win

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 29, 2004

WILLOW WOOD - The backs stepped to the front.

The Symmes Valley Vikings backfield combined its talents for 331 rushing yards in a 7-6 come-from-behind win over the Huntington Ross Huntsmen Friday in the season opener for both teams.

Quarterback Craig Neal had 117 yards on 17 carries, Justin Holland had 94 on 10 tries, Cory Burcham 70 on 12 attempts, and Derek Carpenter added 46 yards on nine rushes in the balanced attack.

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"Our backs don't care who carries the ball. They just want to do whatever it takes to win," Vikings coach Rusty Webb said.

After a scoreless first half, Ross went up 6-0 on a 14-yard run by Cody Waterbury. The Huntsmen went 54 yards in seven plays aided by a 15-yard penalty on Symmes Valley.

The Vikings came back to tie the game on a 61-yard scamper by Holland with 8:32 left to cap a 71-yard, three-play drive. Burcham kicked the deciding extra point.

"Huntington Ross did a good job to get momentum, but after the score our guys did a good job getting the momentum back and dominating. I think that's where our conditioning did them in," Webb said.

But the game should not have been so close. The Vikings had the ball inside the 4-yard line twice in the first half only to lose it on fumbles.

"It was ugly, but we won," Webb said.

Symmes Valley had 362 total yards with 331 coming on 52 rushing plays. Ross had 202 total yards.

"All of our backs did an outstanding job. They were trying to take away Burcham and our fullback, and the other backs stepped up," Webb said. "In a three-back set, it's hard to take away all three. They did an outstanding job blocking for each other."

Webb said the offensive backs weren't

the only key to the win. He said the defense, led by Neal's interception, shut down the Huntsmen when needed.