Vikings cap Cinderella season with SOC I title
McDERMOTT — From the basement to the penthouse. What a difference a year can make.
Last season, the Symmes Valley Vikings were 4-6 and finished last in the Southern Ohio Conference I standings at 1-4.
The Vikings turned that completely around on Friday with a 22-16 win over the Northwest Mohawks to capture the SOC championship in a showdown between the league’s two unbeaten teams.
“We talked about that in the weight room all winter. We had it on a board that the kids had to look at all year long. We had the standings posted and used it as motivation all winter,” said Webb. “I am just so proud of this bunch of kids”
The defense helped trigger the win by forcing three turnovers including two fumbles. Both teams converted only once on third down during the game but the Vikings were 3-of-4 on fourth down conversions to keep drives alive.
“The defense kind of bench but didn’t break. We came up with turnovers when we needed,” said Webb.
“Last year there were times when our kids were trying to figure out how to win games. But they’re growing up and learning how to do it. We’re still young and we had a lot going against us, but the kids just kept fighting,”
Symmes Valley (9-1, 5-0) also clinched a postseason playoff berth in Region 27 of Division 7.
The Vikings will await their playoff assignment on Sunday as their playoff game will be next Saturday.
Unofficially, Symmes Valley will play at Shadyside at 7 p.m. No. 1-seed Harvest Prep will host Frontier, Newark Catholic host Reedsville Eastern and Waterford travels to Shadyside.
The Vikings took a 7-0 lead with 8:03 left in the first quarter when Northwest had a bad snap on a punt and Eli Patterson picked up the ball and ran 20 yards for a touchdown. Gavan Yates kicked the conversion.
After recovering a fumble, the Vikings went 43 yards in just three plays to go up 14-0.
Josh Ferguson keyed the drive with a 20-yard run and it was capped by an 18-yard pass from Jack Leith to Luke Leith with 5:38 on the clock.
Brayden Campbell ran 17 yards for a touchdown and Dakota Secrest kicked the conversion with 10:54 left in the half and it was 14-7.
Northwest had a first-and-goal inside the 10-yard line with time running out in the first half, but the Vikings forced a fumble and recovered to halt the threat.
Secrest kicked a 30-yard field goal at the 7:43 mark of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 14-10. Nathan Rivers then ran 13 yards for the go-ahead touchdown just before the end of the quarter and it was 16-14.
The Vikings’ got the winning touchdown on a 7-yard pass from Jack Leith the Luke Leith with 6:14 to play.
Ferguson set the drive up by returning the kickoff to the Northwest 42 and the Vikings went on a 10-play drive that ate 5:45 off the clock.
Nick Strow’s interception with 2:06 to play enabled the Vikings to run out the clock and secure the win.
Ferguson led the Vikings with 66 yards on 13 carries with Jack Leith adding 43 yards on 16 tries. Leith was 4-of-6 passing for 34 yards and two touchdowns.
Northwest (6-4, 4-1) had 315 yards — all on the ground — with Campbell running 24 times for 194 yards while Rivers carried 15 times for 124 yards.
Sym. Valley 14 0 0 8 = 22
Northwest 0 7 9 0 = 16
SV — Eli Patterson 20 fumble recovery (Gavan Yates kick) 8:03
SV — Luke Leith 18 pass from Jack Leith (Gavan Yates kick) 5:38
NW — Brayden Campbell 17 run (Dakota Secrest kick) 10:54
NW — Dakota Secrest 30 field goal 7:43
NW — Nathan Rivers 13 run (run failed) 0:12
SV — Luke Leith 7 pass from Jack Leith (Jack Leith run) 6:14
First downs 12 15
Rushes-yards 43-142 43-315
Passing yards 34 0
Total yards 176 332
Cmp-Att-Int 4-6-0 0-4-1
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-2
Penalties-yards 3-15 11-107
Punts-average 5-21.4 3-20.3
Time of Possession 27:08 20:52
RUSHING — Symmes Valley: Josh Ferguson 13-66, Jack Leith 16-43, Ethan Patterson 9-25, Nick Strow 5-8; Northwest: Brayden Campbell 24-194, Nathan Rivers 15-124, Wyatt Brackman 1-2, Austin Newman 2-minus 5.
PASSING — Symmes Valley: Jack Leith 4-6-0 34; Northwest: Austin Newman 0-4-1.
RECEIVING — Symmes Valley: Luke Leith 2-25, Josh Ferguson 2-9; Northwest: None.