Big plays sink NP Vikings


Ivan Perez (Photo by Tim Tutor)


Sports Editor

KOSSUTH — “We still haven’t gotten to the point where we are good at tackling and blocking,” said North Pontotoc Viking head football coach Cliff Dew after losing 42-13 on the road to Region 1-3A foe Kossuth. “We have moments when we look really good, and then we have moments where it just looks like it’s all going to pot.”

Big-play scores, four to be exact, by the Aggies were the difference in the game here on Friday evening.

“On defense, we stop ’em, stop ’em, stop ’em, then someone slips through,” Dew explained, noting that he still needs to look back at the game film. “But, I’m sure it’s missed assignments.

“We’ll have nine guys doing the right thing, and two that don’t. That’s when they got their big plays.”

The first quarter

After moving the football deep into Aggie territory on their first possession of the game, a lost fumble was brought out to the Kossuth 29-yard line. North held Kossuth to only six plays in their opening possession.

But after a 35-yard drive stalled at midfield, the Vikings were forced to punt on a fourth down with 16 yards to go.

Then, on third down and four from the North Pontotoc 45-yard line, Kossuth got their first big-play score when tackles were broken and the Aggie running back ran free down the right sideline. With 2:48 remaining in the first quarter, Kossuth lead 7-0.

The second quarter

The Vikings moved the football from their own 10-yard line to the Aggie 41, before an incomplete pass turned the ball over on downs.

Then, much like the first Kossuth touchdown, a 42-yard tackle-breaking run right up the middle, put the Aggies up 14-0 with a little over eight minutes left in the half.

North went four and out, and Kossuth used four plays to move from their own 49-yard line for their next score. After a running-into-the-kicker penalty on the point after attempt, the Aggies went for two and made it.

Trailing 22-0 with just five minutes left in the half, the Vikings, led by the running of junior quarterback Ivan Perez, moved the ball from their own 38-yard line in eight plays to make it a 22-7 affair.

On four carries for 38 yards, Perez moved the football to the Aggie 24-yard line. Then, on third and 15 from the 29, Perez hit junior running back Aries Stanfield on a catch and run down to the 3-yard line.

Perez took it over from there, and after senior Jake Tutor’s PAT, with a buck 52 left in the half, the score was 22-7.

Perez completed nine of 22 pass attempts for 115 yards in the game, with all nine catches made in the first half.

Kossuth would add another quick touchdown before the halftime break when, on a second down and seven from their own 23-yard line, a receiver was left alone and he ran the distance untouched after making the catch.

The point-after attempt was good, and the Aggies held a 29-7 lead at the break.

The third quarter

“Our kids have got to get out of this mindset, that when bad things happen to them ... the ballgame is over,” Coach Dew said. “Just because the other team is up two or three touchdowns, we’re not out of the game, and I think we had a little bit of that in the second half tonight.” When the whistle blew to signal the start of the third quarter, the North Pontotoc Vikings were fired up and ready to get back in the game.

The Vikings stopped the Aggies’ first second-half drive, when junior defensive back West Mounce picked off a pass inside NP territory and brought it out to the 41-yard line.

North could not then mount a charge, but held Kossuth again on their next series and forced a punting situation.

From their own 40-yard line, the Vikings, in only four plays, drove for their second touchdown of the evening.

After Stanfield ran for seven yards and sophomore Joe Robbins added one more, Perez broke a long run of his own, down to the Aggie 2-yard line.

Perez took it over on the next play.

The PAT was thwarted when the snap from center was bobbled, but NP had closed the gap to 29-13 with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.

Perez finished the night’s work with a total of 274 yards of offense, including 24 carries for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

“I thought we fought hard, for the most part,” Coach Dew said.

“We had some good stops on defense and we got the ball back. We go down and score, but then the excitement kind of faded away.

“That’s what we’ve got to overcome.”

Dew had reminded his charges at halftime that, “It’s got to be 11 doing the right thing on every play. We’re not good enough to overcome somebody making a mistake.

“That’s the thing that we’ve got to realize.”

The Aggies have a stable of strong running backs, “and they run hard, their two running backs and their quarterback, too,” Dew added. “They’ve got a good football team, and we knew that coming in.”

Starting from their own 36-yard line after the Tutor kickoff, Kossuth did it again.

After earning a first down and on second down and eight from the NP 47-yard line, the Aggies, once again, slipped tackles and scurried the distance for their fifth touchdown of the game.

The Kossuth point-after attempt failed, but the Aggies were now up, 35-13.

The fourth quarter

It took Kossuth only six plays on their first possession of the fourth quarter to tally another score, and once again, a long gainer was involved.

Even after a holding penalty was called on the Aggies, a second down and nine from their own 47-yard line turned into first and ten at the Viking 40-yard line, after a run of 23 yards.

Then a 39-yard Aggie run put the ball at the Viking goal line. After the next play and the PAT, Kossuth wrapped up the scoring to take the 42-13 win with a little under nine minutes left on the game clock.

From their own 27-yard line, North mounted a last-ditch effort.

A big carry of 31 yards by Stanfield on a third and eight, put the Vikings in business at the Aggie 29-yard line.

On third and 11, Perez threw to sophomore Myles Snyder in the back of the endzone. But an outstretched Snyder could not quiet make the catch.

Then, with a little over five minutes left, Kossuth, picking up three consecutive first downs, ran out the clock.

The last word

Coach Dew said his team was at a point where they have two choices, either “fold it up, pack it up and say this season’s over, or we can come back on Monday morning at 6:30 and get things back on track.

“I told the guys that I’m going to work this Sunday, and we’re going to get ready to win a ballgame next week.”

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