By Brennan Waldorf
The third-ranked team in the VISAA Division III came to Exmore last Saturday to face off against the Broadwater Vikings. The St. Michael the Archangel Warriors had only 15 players dressed for their bout against the Vikings, but it was all they needed.
The Warriors were a well-oiled and disciplined machine as they controlled the ball and clock most of the game. The Vikings’ defense made several big plays on the day, often putting the Warriors in third and long situations. They were dialed in against the run but broken coverage on passing plays often allowed for wide-open Warrior scores.
The Warriors started with the ball after the Vikings deferred. It would take seven plays for them to get into the end zone behind the leadership of senior quarterback Jalen Smith. With a series of short passes, the Warriors found themselves on the Broadwater 19 facing a third-and-11 when they completed a wide-open pass to Chase Wormley. The extra point was good, and they were up 7-0 with 7:45 left in the first quarter.
The Vikings struggled on offense all day against the Warriors stout defense. Their first possession was a three and out, putting the ball back into the hands of the Warriors who would score on another broken coverage play. Down 13-0 after a failed 2-point conversion, the Vikings took over from their own 49 after a sizeable return from Gunnar Gustafon but poor blocking allowed the Warriors to break through and record a sack that lead to a Brant Bloxom fumble.
Good field position allowed the Warriors to score another passing touchdown to running back Shymarr Wright. Down three scores, the Vikings desperately needed to get something going to stay in the game. Gustafon answered that call when he torched the Warriors’ special teams’ unit for over 70 yards before being hawked down at the Warriors’ 2-yard line. The specialist then capped the drive off with a rushing touchdown to the right before passing a two-point conversion to Clay Wardius.
The Warriors took over possession with the score at 20-8 with 11:47 left in the half. The Vikings defense, still making plays, found themselves facing a fourth-and- 1, but the Warriors converted and would find the end zone again with a pass to Wright. The Vikings stalled on their next possession recording a three and out but bounced back on defense, recording a three and out of their own after a Caleb Floyd sack forced a Warrior fourth and long.
With short time and good field position, the Vikings’ offense went to work. Brant Bloxom connected with Clay Wardius for a 19-yard gain followed by a 13-yard run up the middle from Gustafon. With the ball on the Warriors’ 3-yard line, Gustafon punched in the go-ahead touchdown but would fail on the 2-point conversion attempt.
The score was 27-14 with 1:31 left in the half. The Vikings’ defense continued to make big plays when they recorded back-to-back sacks, one of which by Clay Wardius resulted in a fumble recovery for the Vikings. With 22 seconds left, Brant Bloxom delivered a strike to Gustafon for 34 yards on a pass over the middle in double coverage. Gustafon then attempted a run up the middle but fell short, ending the half.
The Vikings’ offense did not find the end zone again in the game as the Warriors disciplined defense contained the run and got to the quarterback. The Vikings’ defense continued to make plays but allowed the Warriors to score four more touchdowns in the half, falling 55-14. The Vikings move to 3-5 and will have their hands full on senior day, Nov. 2, as they face a 7-1 Fuqua, who are number one in the division.