Posted: Dec 1, 2012 4:27 PM
Updated: Dec 1, 2012 5:28 PM
MARSHALL, MO -- The No. 2 Missouri Valley College Vikings saw their 2012 season come to an end in the NAIA Football Championship Series semifinals to No. 5 Marian University 20-17. The Knights kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired to pull off the victory.
Marian received the opening kickoff, but the Vikings were the first team to put points on the board. After receiving a Marian punt at their own 38-yard line, the Vikings put together the day's first scoring drive. The big play in the drive came when Sophomore Quarterback Bruce Reyes connected with Freshman Wide Receiver Seth Martinko for 33-yards putting the ball inside the Marian 10-yard line. The Vikings failed to move the ball on their next three downs, but got three points out of the drive as Senior Kicker Fabian Miramontes hit a 29-yard field goal to cap off a nine-play 50-yard drive early in the first quarter.
The Knights came right back with a scoring drive of their own. Marian moved the ball from its own 25-yard line to the Missouri Valley 30-yard line. The Viking defense stiffened and forced a 47-yard field goal from their kicker Mike Josifovski, which he made to tie the score at 3-3 with less than seven minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Neither team could get much offense going to end the first quarter and into the early parts of the second quarter. An odd play highlighted the action early in the second quarter as a Reyes pass was intercepted deep inside MVC territory. However Senior Running Back Zavier Steward was able to strip the ball, giving MVC a new possession. The Vikings capped the new possession by turning the ball over again, this time a fumble at their own 36-yard line, where Marian took over.
The Vikings held their ground despite deep inside their own territory allowing just 19-yards on nine-plays in the drive. Still, Josifovski was able to connect on a 34-yard field goal to give Marian a 6-3 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the first half.
MVC made sure the Marian lead was short lived by marching down the field for a score. Another Reyes-to-Martinko connection, this time for 35-yards, helped to move the Viking drive inside Marian territory. The two would connect again on a 34-yard touchdown strike on a third down play to put MVC back up on top. Miramontes connected on the extra point, and MVC took a 10-9 lead with just under two minutes remaining in the first half.
There was still enough time in the half for both teams to have another crack at scoring. The Vikings forced Marian to punt, and received a 22-yard return from Senior Defensive Back LaQuentin Black setting MVC up near midfield. On the first play of the drive, Reyes threw an interception giving Marian the ball back in Viking territory. Again, the Viking defense stood their ground and forced a 46-yard field goal, but this attempt sailed wide right, sending the game to halftime with MVC leading 10-9.
The Vikings got the first drive of the second half, starting near midfield, and put some more points on the board. This time it was a Reyes pass to Freshman Wide Receiver Jacoby Bellard for a 25-yard touchdown to cap off a seven-play 53-yard drive. Miramontes hit the extra point, and MVC took a 17-9 advantage early in the third quarter.
After forcing Marian to punt on the Knights' first possession of the half, the Vikings looked to take the game over. The offense moved the ball to the Marian 36-yard line, but failed on a fourth-down conversion attempt.
The Knights took over at their own 36-yard line and worked quickly. The first play of the drive was a 49-yard run by Running Back Tevin Lake to the MVC 15-yard line. Four plays later and the Knights found the end zone getting to within two points of the Vikings. Marian missed on the initial two-point conversion attempt, but a roughing the passer penalty gave the Knights a second crack, which they used to their advantage, converting the attempt and tying the game up at 17-17 with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Vikings failed to get within field goal range on their next drive, and eventually turned the ball over on a Reyes interception, with Marian taking over at the Knights' 10-yard line. Marian failed to do anything after the interception, punting to MVC, but the Vikings failed to move the ball despite taking over at midfield, punting it back to Marian.
The Knights took over at their own 15-yard line with just over 11 minutes left in the game and put together one of the most impressive drives of the afternoon. The Knights ran Lake a total of eight times in a 14-play 70-yard drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock. However, the Viking defense came up with a big stop, thanks in part to a Junior Linebacker Andrew Huhman tackle for loss on a third-down attempt, forcing Marian to kick a field goal. Despite gaining an offside penalty on the Vikings, Marian missed the 32-yard attempt wide right, giving MVC the ball back with just over three minutes remaining in the game, and the score still tied at 17-17.
After the missed field goal, the Vikings quickly found themselves with a third-down and six yard attempt, but the Marian defense came up with another pick, this time at their own 32-yard line, setting up the final drive of the game. The Knights moved the ball to the MVC 34-yard line and called a timeout with two seconds remaining in the game. Although he missed two shorter field goals, Josifovski hit a 51-yard attempt down the middle of the goal posts as time expired giving Marian the victory 20-17, allowing the Knights a chance to play for a National championship, and ending the National title hopes for the Vikings.
Leading the way for MVC on the ground was Steward who had 12-carries for 49-yards. Passing wise, Reyes went 19 of 37 for 258 yards with two touchdowns, but he also had four interceptions. Martinko led all receivers with nine receptions for 170 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively the Vikings were led by Senior Linebacker Mike Hall who had 12 total tackles, including one and a half sacks and two tackles for loss. Sophomore Defensive Lineman Ty Phillips finished with seven total tackles, two sacks, and three tackles for loss. Also getting a half a sack apiece were Huhman, Danny Reyes, and Taylor Moore.
The loss ends the Vikings' season with a 12-1 record. The Vikings were hoping to return to the National championship game for the first time since 1974. Marian improves to 11-1 with the win and will play Morningside in the 57th Annual Russell Athletic-NAIA Football Championship December 13 in Rome, Georgia.