Vincent Memorial outlasts Holtville in Friday night thriller

Scots QB Eduardo Valenzuela

HOLTVILLE – The Holtville Vikings hosted the Vincent Memorial Scots Friday at Birger Field for their final home football game of the season. The game was a tale of two different halves that treated fans of both sidelines to exciting plays, coming down to a last-minute thriller that left one team howling in frustration over the outcome.

The Vincent Memorial Scots came out with a frightening opening strike, and put up six points in less than two minutes. Juan Pablo Ruiz caught a deep pass from Vincent quarterback Eduardo Valenzuela and ran the ball the rest of the way for the touchdown. The Scots made good with the point after attempt to put them up 7-0.

When the Vikings received the ball, they moved it all the way into the Scots’ red zone, but a mishandled snap led to a turnover that was recovered by Vincent Memorial inside their own 10-yard line.

The Scots lost little time taking the ball back into the Vikings’ end zone, and rushed from nearly mid-field to put up another six points. The PAT failed, leaving the score at 13-0 for Vincent Memorial.

The Vikings’ offense failed to gain any traction on their ensuing possession, and handed the ball back to a ready, willing, and able Vincent Memorial offense that again made good on the possession.

On their third possession during the second quarter, the Scots scored through the air with a pass from Valenzuela to Ruiz to bring the Scots up to 19-0. Vincent shored up their production on the scoreboard with a two-point conversion (rushing), leaving them ahead 21-0.

Like their Norse namesakes, the Vikings had no intention of going into the night without putting up a fight as they took the next possession across the field with a catch from Andy Pascual for a total of 51 yards that ended just outside the Vincent end zone.

The Vikings pounded until they had punched into the end zone with a Pascual touchdown run, but came up short with the point after attempt that left the score at 21-6 for Vincent Memorial.

Up to this point in the second quarter, Vincent Memorial was able to control the ball and the clock, and scored on consecutive possessions. With just over three minutes before halftime, the Scots put an exclamation point on their first half with another touchdown, on the ground this time, from Ignacio Monge, putting the score at 27-6 going into halftime.

After halftime, the Vikings came out of the locker room looking determined. It appeared they had assessed their opponent, and took the field daring the Scots to try and stop them on the ground with a gadget offense.

As the Vikings’ first possession stalled on fourth down, in the spirit of Halloween, Holtville reached into a bag of tricks for a treat, and pulled out a fake punt on fourth down. In a punishing run by freshman Jose Devoux, they took the ball across the field for a touchdown, but it was called back for a holding penalty.

Although erased, the play served as a rallying cry for the Vikings who stiffened on defense in the second half, shutting the Scots out of the end zone for the rest of the game.

The Vikings’ offense moved the ball, but came up short of the end zone and a touchdown again in the third with an interception by Vincent in their own end zone. Despite the setback, the Viking defense remained steadfast getting the ball back to the offense quickly and often.

The Vikings finally broke into the end zone a third of the way into the fourth quarter, putting six points on the board, but failing at a two-point conversion play that left the score at 27-12 for Vincent.

The Vikings succeeded in scoring again with four minutes left in the game on another Pasqual touchdown on the ground, and a successful two-point conversion, raising the score to 27-20, and putting Holtville within a touchdown — but running out of time.

Vincent moved the ball into the Holtville red zone on the ensuing possession, and just inches from putting the game out of reach late in the fourth, the Holtville defense intercepted a Valenzuela pass in the Viking end zone, giving Holtville a foothold to rally back.

The Vikings broke away from their second half ground game and tried to make up turf against an unforgiving clock to come up with an interception with just over a minute left in the game, sealing the victory for Vincent Memorial.

“They were ready,” said Vincent Memorial Head Coach David Wong. “We couldn’t adjust to their defense. We were lucky in the first half that they didn’t score two more touchdowns, or we would have been in trouble.”

“We made the adjustments in the first half and we stopped them twice, but then in the second half, they came out again different, and I had to force my defensive coordinator to make all the necessary changes,” Wong said.