Dresden gamble puts out Vikings
Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 12:02 pm
Special to The Press
After Friday night’s playoff game against Humboldt, Dresden head coach Scott Hewett gathered his team around and told them they played “with a lot of heart, the heart of champions.”
It took every bit of heart the Lions had to edge out the Vikings 22-21.
With the win, the Lions will advance to the 2011 quarterfinals for the first time since 1986, before any of the players on the sideline were even born.
“I look at the guys, each playing with a lot of heart and it goes back to spring of last year when we started working out in the weight room,” Hewett said. “(The workouts) are arduous and they’ll cost us some players that can’t handle the hard work, but it pays off.”
Quarterback Gatlin Hatchel was perfect on the night going 9-of-9 for 123 yards. However, it was his 21 carries for 88 yards that was his biggest contribution was the ability to use his feet when he saw an opportunity.
“There was a point and time I thought he was putting too much on himself,” Hewett said. “He’s done that before, though, and it just works out. You can tell he’s a three-sport athlete; he can do it all.”
Hatchel’s top receiver was Colter Swafford, who had five receptions for 57 yards, including two third-down conversions.
On the other side of the field, it was sophomore quarterback Jaylen Montague and senior wide receiver Chris McLilly who made up the bulk of the Vikings’ offense. Montague went 9-of-11 for 160 yards and two touchdowns. McLilly had six of those catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
After a Dresden fumble set them up in good field possession, the Viking offense utilized the run game to drive down the field, capped off by a 34-yard pass from Montague to McLilly to put the home team on the board first.
A balanced rushing and passing game put the Lions deep in Viking territory. Hatchel took the ball 21 yards to put his team on the board, but a missed extra point would leave the Lions still trailing by one.
After the defense came up with a big stop, the Dresden offense went back to work. A 63-yard drive that included four third-down conversions, two of which for 14 yards put the lions on the Viking three-yard line. Hatchel decided to keep it himself for a three-yard run and then connected with Colin Kanehl on the two-point conversion try to give the Lions their first lead of the game.
The Vikings got the ball back with 1:21 remaining in the half, but a 45-yard pass from Montague to David Wilson put the Vikings on the Lion eight-yard line. CC Moody finally found the end zone after a three-yard carry to tie the game going into halftime.
Humboldt got on the board first in the second half with a 39-yard strike from Montague to McLilly at the 1:22 mark in the 3rd quarter. The Dresden sideline would not let that dampen their spirits and the offense took the field for what would soon be the biggest drive of the year.
Three fourth-down conversions — including a 25-yard pass to Devan Raymer — put the ball on the Viking one-yard line, where Eric VanDyke took the ball in for the touchdown.
Hewett then pulled a shocking move when he decided to go for two and the lead instead of the tie with over seven minutes to go in the game.
Hewett’s gamble paid off as Hatchel was able to connect with Tyler McPeak in the corner of the end zone to give the Lions a 22-21 lead with 7:17 to go in the game.
“I had decided before we started that drive that we were going for two,” Hewett said. “I didn’t feel like there was any way we were going to win in an overtime battle.”
With plenty of time left for the Vikings to put together their own drive, the defense came up with a huge three-and-out to put the ball back in the hands of the offense.
The offense was able to eat up enough clock to leave just 11 seconds on the board for the Vikings, which wouldn’t be enough, giving the fans who had been loud the entire game plenty to cheer about.
“I think (the fan support) had a huge impact,” Hewett said.
“At times I believe Humboldt had trouble hearing signals. They were loud and when I’m noticing how loud they are, they’re loud.”
The Lions will travel to Memphis to take on Westwood in the quarterfinals this Friday, the game slated to be played at Crump Stadium near downtown. Published in The WCP 11.15.11