The Pelican Rapids Vikings opened up the 2019 football season at home against the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Wolves.
The Vikings took advantage of big plays on both offense and defense to pick up a 32-18 win to open the season.
The first of the big plays came on the sixth play of the game. Vikings defensive back Jayden Rutherford came up with the first turnover of the season intercepting a WHA pass and returning it to the 11 yard line.
Pelican Rapids capitalized two plays later when McHale Korf scored the first touchdown of the season with a four yard run. Korf also ran in the 2 point conversion for an early 8-0 lead.
Pelican Rapids also scored on their second possession of the game. This drive covered 74 yards but still used only 4 plays to get into the endzone. A beautiful pass and catch from Korf to Logan Fahje covered 22 yards for a touchdown. Rutherford ran in the conversion and the Vikings lead grew to 16-0. Rutherford also had a key play on the drive with a 47 yard run.
WHA got on the board just over halfway into the second quarter. The Vikings defense held on the two point conversion putting the score at 16-6.
With 36 seconds left in the first half Pelican Rapids got into the endzone one more time. Rutherford took the pass from Korf and went in 9 yards for another touchdown. This possession was set up when Justin VerDorn recovered a Wolves fumble and Johnny Ziebell had a 55 yard run to get the team into scoring position.
Pelican Rapids opened the second half with the ball and put together a great drive of 52 yards. The Vikings went no huddle and really put WHA on their heals. Matty Ziebell got into the endzone with a 3 yard run and the two point conversion run by Rutherford gave Pelican Rapids a 32-6 lead.
“I felt that the drive to start the second half was a real key to the win. The size of the lead and momentum built gave us a huge advantage,” said Coach Dave Haugen.
WHA got into the endzone with two touchdowns late in the 4th quarter. The Wolves never threatened to take the lead as the touchdowns only changed the final score.
WHA had some long drives but the Vikings defense kept coming up with the plays needed to gain possession of the ball.
“We will need to improve our tackling in the future, but I was proud of our resiliency and we hung in and made the plays we needed to,” said Haugen. “Walker’s quarterback is also a very good player and is going to have a lot of success this fall.”
“Offensively we played good football for the opening game. Our pass protection is one area offensively that we will need to improve. I expect us to continue to be a strong running team.”
PHOTOS BY LOUIS HOGLUND