Michael Anderson

North Pontotoc's Michael Anderson throws a stiff-arm as he rumbles for yardage in the Vikings' division win over Houston on Friday. 

HOUSTON- Homecoming at Viking Field on Friday night was a joyous occasion for the young ladies of the homecoming court. Brook McBrayer was crowned Football Queen, and Anna Beth Brown was crowned Homecoming Queen.

Once the pageantry had concluded it was time for some action on the gridiron.

With the game ticking down and Houston driving late in the fourth quarter, the Viking defense would rise to the occasion, as Aiden Tatum intercepted a pass from Houston’s Steele Brooks to clinch the Region 2-4A win.

The Hilltoppers won the toss and opened the game on offense, marching down the field behind the running of Jalen Washington, who ended the night with 113 yards rushing. The PAT was no good and Houston led 6-0.

The Vikings and Hilltoppers would trade punts through the remainder of the first quarter and into the second. The Vikings would finally get on the board with a Reece Kentner touchdown run, setup by a Kentner to Romeo Cornejo pass and catch with 9:43 to go in the first half. The PAT was no good and the game was tied at six. Houston would answer the Viking score with a little style as they executed a hook and ladder pass for 61 yards to go up 12-6 after another missed PAT.

The Vikings would respond with a 51 yard touchdown pass from Kentner to Winn Navarrete on a nice go route down the sidelines. The missed PAT knotted the game at 12.

Houston would answer quickly with a 79 yard kickoff return for touchdown to regain the lead at 18-12. A Viking fumble on the next drive led to a 14 yard touchdown run and Houston would go up 24-12. Houston would again capitalize on a Viking mistake after an interception set up the Hilltoppers at the 37. Two plays later Houston scored on a 29 yard pass from Red Parker to EJ Stovall. The score was 30-12 Houston, going into halftime.

The third quarter belonged to the Vikings, as they shut down the Houston offense with a stingy defensive effort. The Vikings received the second half kick and wasted no time getting back in the game. North mounted a long drive, with Cornejo reeling in a nice grab to set up a first and goal. Kentner carried it on on a two yard run for a touchdown.

After a Houston three and out, the Vikings would march down the field again behind hard hard runs by Kentner and Michael Anderson. Coach Andy Crotwell said “Reece and Michael ran the ball very hard for us tonight.” Kentner finished the drive with a three yard touchdown plunge and the Houston lead was down to 30-25 to end the third quarter.

Houston opened the fourth quarter with a 14 yard touchdown run by Kemper Cook.

Kentner and Cornejo went to work as the Vikings marched down the field to cut the lead to 37-32. The Viking defense stopped Houston with 4:52 to go in the game. North drove down the field, led by Kentner on the ground, as they chewed up the game clock. The Houston defense stopped the Vikings on consecutive plays to force a huge fourth down and 15 from the Viking 30. Kentner dropped back to pass and found a wide open Navarrete in the end zone for the Vikings' first lead of the night 38-37.

Houston would have one final possession with just over one minute to play when Tatum intercepted the ball to seal the game for the Vikings.

After the game Coach Crotwell said he was pleased with the team's effort, particularly they way they responded in the second half.

“These wins are huge, Houston is a great team and they will do big things down the road," said Crotwell. "To knock off a team like that the way we did in the second half, only allowing seven points and scoring 26 of our own--that was one of the best half’s of football we have played in my entire five years here.”

Kentner ended the night with more than 350 all-purpose yards: He ran for four touchdowns and threw for two more. Navarrete led the Viking receiving corps with 114 yards and two scores.

The Vikings will host New Albany for its final their final home game of the season on Oct. 15. 

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