By Rickey Clardy
UNIONVILLE — The Community Vikings used all three phases of the game to gain a huge lead in the first half, then connected on a key fourth down conversion in the final minutes to seal the deal as the Vikings reached the win column with a 46-44 victory over the Red Boiling Springs Bulldogs in a non-region football contest Friday night.
Five Viking touchdown passes in the first half, aided by an interception and two onside kick recoveries kept the Community offense on the field for a prolonged time and forced the Bulldog defense to stay on the field for most of the half.
After taking the opening kickoff, the Vikings quickly moved downfield and used a 28-yard run by Maki Fleming to reach the Bulldog 1-yard line.
But the drive stalled as Community could not score after four attempts from close range.
The Viking defense did not allow the Bulldogs to sustain any momentum on the ensuing Red Boiling Springs possession as Aaron Graff intercepted a pass to give Community good field position at the Bulldog 38-yard line.
The Vikings found pay dirt after the interception as quarterback Nyles Barnet connected with Fleming on a 35-yard touchdown to give Community the early lead.
The Vikings were successful on 5-of-6 two-point conversion attempts in the game and scored on their first try as Fleming ran for two to give Community an 8-0 lead with 5:32 left in the opening quarter.
The Bulldogs responded as workhorse quarterback Aubrey Link completed three passes to get Red Boiling Springs close.
Link, who was involved in virtually every play of the game either on offense, defense, or special teams, ran the ball in from eight yards out and provided the extra point as the Viking lead was cut to 8-7 with 3:56 remaining.
Community kept its
big play offense going on its next possession as Barnet and Fleming teamed up again on another 35-yard pass as the Vikings moved to the Bulldog 10-yard line.
After a penalty, Barnet found Issac Jacobs for 14 yards and the touchdown to increase the Viking lead. Jacobs ran for two as Community took a 16-7 lead with 42 seconds left in the quarter.
Two consecutive onside kick recoveries helped the Vikings to maintain possession and pad their lead in the half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Levi Parker made the first recovery to give the Vikings the ball at the Bulldog 49 as the game moved to the second quarter.
The familiar duo of Barnet and Fleming teamed up on the first play of the quarter as Fleming hauled in a 52-yard pass for the touchdown as the Vikings extended their lead to 22-7 with 11:49 left.
Percy Wilson recovered the next onside kick as the Vikings maintained possession and kept the Bulldog offense off the field.
On fourth down, it wasn’t a broken record as Fleming took the pass from Barnet and went up between two defenders to bring the ball down.
Fleming scampered the rest of the way for the score to complete the 35-yard reception and increase the Viking lead.
The pass from Barnet to Charles Haskins was good for two as the Vikings went up 30-7 with 8:39 left.
“When we onside kick and are successful, we can win,” Coach Chris Grooms of the Vikings said. “That’s kind of always how it’s been with us.”
“I’ve preached it all year to them that you’ve got to get these,” Grooms added. “It worked for us tonight.”
A 4-yard run by Link and a run for two by Tyler Lancaster cut the Viking lead to 30-15 with 2:18 left.
But the Vikings had some theatrics left on their next possession before heading to the locker room.
A 20-yard pass from Barnet to Jacobs and a 17-yard reception by Braxtin Landers helped the Vikings reach the Bulldog 17-yard line with no timeouts and seconds remaining.
With time for one last play, Barnet scrambled on the near side of the field and found Jacobs on the opposite side for 17 yards and the score as Barnet connected for his fifth touchdown pass of the half.
Jacobs ran for the 2-point conversion as the Vikings took a 38-15 lead to the intermission.
With the Viking offense stalling in the third quarter, the Bulldogs jumped back into the game with two scoring drives.
It took only two plays and 48 seconds to start the half before Link scored on a 21-yard run to bring the Bulldogs c
The extra point cut the Viking lead to 38-22.
Two subsequent Viking drives stalled, but another interception in-between by Graff helped to stop one Bulldog drive. But Red Boiling Springs was successful on its next possession as Link ran three yards for the touchdown. Link’s pass to Joseph Birdwell was good for two as the Bulldogs cut the Viking lead to 38-30 with 4:31 left.
Despite a 35-yard pass completion from Barnet to Jacobs, the next Viking drive ended without a score as the game went to the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs found pay dirt early in the quarter as Lancaster scored from one yard out to bring Red Boiling Springs within two.
But the pass on the conversion to tie the game failed as the Vikings clung to a 38-36 lead with 9:28 remaining.
With the Bulldogs enjoying the momentum, the Vikings started their next possession at their own 13-yard line.
A 32-yard pass from Barnet to Fleming gave the Vikings some breathing room while a second pass to Fleming was good for 22 yards and moved Community closer to the end zone.
On fourth down from the 7-yard line, the Vikings went to the wildcat formation as Fleming took the direct snap and took it in for the first Community score since the second quarter.
Barnet connected with Fleming on the important 2-point conversion as the Vikings went up 46-36 with 4:19 left.
The Bulldogs took little time to score on their next possession as Link found Dalton Dallas from four yards out. Link’s pass to Houston Taylor was good on the conversion as the Vikings led 46-44 with 2:55 remaining.
The Vikings could not gain yardage on the first three plays of their next possession and faced a fourth down and 10 on the Bulldog 48-yard line.
After originally bringing the punting team out, the Vikings reversed course after a timeout.
During the timeout, the Vikings dialed up a double reverse as Barnet pitched the ball to Jacobs before giving the ball to Fleming.
Fleming did the rest as the senior raced 16 yards for the first down, enabling the Vikings to take a knee and run out the clock for the win.
“My players decided they wanted to go for it,” Grooms said. “Sometimes as coach you just listen to your players.”
“We watched a lot of film on them and I said they’re a lot like us, they’re tough, and they’re going to go both ways,” Grooms added. “If we go fast, we’ll see if we can get them tired and I think that’s what happened.”
“We told them when they scored, we had to make sure they didn’t get the 2-point,” Grooms said. “Once we got them behind, they were playing catch-up.”
Community closes out regular season play next Thursday night on Senior Night with a Region 4-3A home game against Watertown.
Game time is 7 p.m.
Red Boiling Springs 7 8 15 14 — 44
Community 16 22 0 8 — 46
C — Maki Fleming 35 pass from Nyles Barnet (Fleming run) 5:32.
RBS ‚ Aubrey Link 8 run (Link kick) 3:56.
C — Issac Jacobs 14 pass from Barnet (Jacobs run) 0:42.
C — Fleming 52 pass from Barnet (run failed) 11:49.
C — Fleming 35 pass from Barnet (Charles Haskins pass from Barnet) 8:39.
RBS — Link 4 run (Tyler Lancaster run) 2:18.
C — Jacobs 17 pass from Barnet (Jacobs run) 0:00.
RBS — Link 21 run (Link kick) 11:12.
RBS — Link 3 run (Joseph Birdwell pass from Link) 4:31.
RBS — Tyler Lancaster 1 run (pass failed) 9:28.
C — Fleming 7 run (Fleming pass from Barnet) 4:19.
RBS — Dalton Dallas 4 pass from Link (Houston Taylor pass from Link) 2:55.