The Northside Vikings were ripe for a letdown.
Coming off dominating wins against Amherst County and Cave Spring in the first two weeks of the season, the Vikings invaded Dwight Bogle Stadium Friday night for the second time in as many weeks and found an upstart 0-2 Hidden Valley team looking for the upset. In the end, the Vikings scored 20 unanswered points over the final 19 minutes to escape Bogle with the 27-17 win.
“This was a very good Hidden Valley team,” Northside head coach Burt Torrence noted at midfield after the game. “When we won the state championship in 2009, the score here was only 20-18, so it was going to be a good football game. It wasn’t like we came in here expecting some big blowout.”
Hidden Valley came out strong and got some help from the Vikings in the first half. After a scoreless first quarter the Titans caught the first break when Northside coughed up the ball near midfield early in the second quarter. Hidden Valley drove to the Viking 10-yard-line before the drive stalled and Landon Dermott put the Titans up 3-0 on a 26-yard field goal.
Hidden Valley recovered the ensuing pooch kickoff, and the Titans drove for their second score when Mason Dermott plunged in from 3-yards out for a 10-0 Hidden Valley lead with 3:11 left in the half.
Northside salvaged their early miscues by driving 65 yards and closing to 10-7 after quarterback Dominic Dunnaville scored from 1 foot out with 32 seconds left before the teams headed to the locker room.
“We told the guys to remember their technique and their responsibilities,” Torrence said of his halftime speech.
Things got worse before they got better for the Vikings to start the second half. Forced to punt on their opening drive, the snap sailed over the kicker’s head and was downed on the Northside one-yard-line. One play lost two yards before Mason Dermott rolled into the left side of the end zone from three-yards out to put Hidden Valley up 17-7.
Northside came right back with a big third down conversion when Dunnaville hit Austin Fisher on a 47-yard strike that saw Fisher bring in an under thrown ball and elude a pair of Titan defenders for the score. The Vikings scored on their next possession when kicker Zach Large connected on a field goal from 20-yards out that sent the teams to the fourth quarter tied at 20.
The Vikings took their first lead of the game with 8:53 left when receiver Harold Buckner brought in a 35-yard toss from Dunnaville for a 24-17 Northside lead. Hidden Valley looked ready to answer when quarterback Jake Smiley drove the Titans deep into Northside territory moments later, but Fisher picked off Smiley and returned the interception to the Titan 15-yard-line. The Titans held before Large gave Northside the final cushion with a 25-yard field goal with 4:27 remaining.
“It just happened,” Fisher said of his key touchdown catch and late interception. “We didn’t get off well, but things turned around when we started to play as a team.”
“We played some lights out football in the second half,” Torrence added “Austin Fisher made some great plays when we needed it.”
“We made 3 or 4 mistakes that cost us 17 points,” Hidden Valley head coach Scott Weaver noted outside the Titan locker room. “We took a step forward tonight. Smiley is a sophomore and is getting better each week. Northside is a very strong team and it showed tonight. They live up to all the hype.”By Bill Turner