NEW WATERFORD, Ohio (WKBN) – The three-headed monster of quarterback Aiden Stephens, running back Devin Carter, and receiver Tre’Von Drake proved to be too much for the Crestview Rebels Friday night as the Vikings won a crucial MVAC battle 34-13.
The victory improves the Vikings to 6-1, 3-1 in the MVAC, and it was the first time the Vikings had beaten the Rebels in program history. The Rebels fall to 3-4 on the year overall, 2-2 in the MVAC.
“This was a big win. To finally get that first win and we knew this is the year that we could do that.” Stephens remarked.
“Their (Crestview) kids play hard. You don’t have the run that they had the past two decades without knowing what you’re doing. We knew this was going to be a battle,” Vikings coach John Armeni added.
Stephens would rush for 126 yards on the night, and score three touchdowns. Carter would rack up a game-high 163 yards and a score, while Drake ran for 106 yards and one touchdown.
“Our line was blocking really well, and our running backs were hitting the hole, making guys miss. I couldn’t get the passing game going, but that was alright, the running game was working. We’ll get that fixed,” Stephens commented on the big rushing night for the Vikings.
The Vikings scored on their second possession of the game when Stephens ran in from 15-yards out to make it 7-0. That score came at the 4:48 mark of the opening stanza.
Drake would boost the Viking’s lead to 13-0 with his 77-yard jet sweep run around the left end of the Rebels defense. That touchdown came with just 9-second remaining in the quarter.
But the Rebel’s Dominic Yerkey flipped the momentum on the following kickoff as he raced 87-yards down the left sideline to make 13-6. He would score the touchdown as the clock expired at the end of the first quarter.
It looked like the Rebels might have a chance to tie or take the lead in the game when the Vikings fumbled the ensuing kickoff. But the Rebels endured three costly penalties and even had a touchdown called back on a penalty on their next possession.
“That’s what good teams do. You don’t allow the opposition to seize the momentum and capitalize on your mistakes. You dig your heels in and stop them,” Armeni said of the Vikings defensive effort following the turnover.
“Not only that, but we had that touchdown called back,” Rebels coach Paul Cusick remarked. “That was a game-changer in my opinion. That makes it tough. When you have opportunities, you have to score. And we didn’t.”
The Vikings then grabbed momentum at the end of the first half when they went on a 94-yard, 8-play drive to score with only 8-seconds remaining before halftime. That gave the Vikings a 20-6 lead at the intermission.
“That was definitely a momentum stealer. Coach was preaching on the sideline to punch it in and then come back after halftime to get another score,” Stephens said.
The Rebels fought back as they scored on their second possession of the second half as Dickey plowed into the end zone from just 2-yards out to make it 20-13. That score came with 4:13 remaining in the third quarter.
But the Vikings closed the door on the Rebels in the fourth quarter by scoring twice and pulling away. Stephens ran in from 12-yards out at the 9:43 mark of the final frame to make it 27-13, and Carter raced 43-yards with just 2:19 remaining in the game to close the scoring.
“The kids played hard, they really did,” Cusick remarked. “We just couldn’t make the plays we needed to.”
The Viking’s host arch-rival Brookfield next Friday in a critical MVAC game for both teams. The Rebels will try to knock off league-leading Garfield next Friday at Garrettsville.
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