After the Vikings won their first regular season game last week at Utica JV with a final score of 58-13, they came back home on Saturday looking to improve their record to 2-0 as they played Lackawanna on a wet afternoon in Troy. As the rain was falling onto the field, Lackawanna further put a damper on the Vikings’ afternoon as they defeated Hudson Valley on their home field with a score of 40-14.
Lackawanna was in full control of the game from the beginning. On their first possession of the game, they drove down 85 yards and capped off the drive with a 45-yard touchdown pass to give Lackawanna an early 6-0 lead. Then, on the kickoff, Hudson Valley fumbled the kick. Lackawanna recovered the fumble and returned it for a touchdown, giving themselves a very early 12-0 lead over the Vikings.
However, the Vikings tried to come back and keep the game interesting. They responded to the fumble by driving 61 yards down the field and converting on a fourth down, which led to Hudson Valley getting on the board. Vikings quarterback Rafael Hidalgo hit receiver Craig Hardgers on a screen pass, and Hardgers ran it 17 yards to the end zone to cut the deficit to 12-7 before the end of the first quarter.
“Ralf is getting better every day. He took a few good shots today, which I was glad to see. He got back up and played hard. I thought he made some good plays with his feet. I thought he did a good job of keeping his eyes downfield. There were plays where I was really pleased with Ralf,” said head coach Mike Muehling of Hidalgo.
Both teams got on the board early in the second quarter. Lackawanna went 90 yards in 4 plays, scored on a 7-yard touchdown pass, and converted on a 2-point conversion to extend the Lackawanna lead to 20-7. The Vikings responded on the very next drive as their 73-yard drive was capped off with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Hidalgo to sophomore receiver Antoin Montgomery to keep the Vikings in the game as the score became 20-14.
Right when the Vikings looked like they were ready to get back into the game, Lackawanna started to run away with it. On Lackawanna’s fourth offensive drive of the game, they scored their fourth touchdown of the first half, converting on two fourth down conversions. This helped them get into the end zone one more time before halftime, and they scored on a 13-yard touchdown run to make the score 28-14 Lackawanna over Hudson Valley going into the halftime break.
The second half of this game was a defensive struggle. There were only two touchdowns scored in the final 30 minutes of the game. Both were scored by Lackawanna in the fourth quarter.
“They [Lackawanna] just made good adjustments defensively at halftime, and we just couldn’t make the plays we needed to. Unfortunately, today our halftime adjustments weren’t as good as theirs, apparently,” said Coach Muehling on his team’s second-half struggles.
Even though the Vikings went scoreless in the entire second half of the game, Hudson Valley certainly had their chances to get back into this game. In the middle of the third quarter, the Vikings had two straight offensive drives that started in Lackawanna’s territory. Even though both offensive drives started promisingly, they had the same result. Both drives ended on failed fourth down conversions by the Vikings offense, leaving them empty-handed.
“It is really frustrating. The defense puts us in good position or special teams makes a play, and then we just can’t capitalize on it. We should be able to make better plays than we did, and today it just didn’t work for us,” said Muehling on the missed opportunities in the third quarter.
Lackawanna made the Vikings pay for their missed opportunities in the fourth quarter as they scored 12 unanswered points to secure their 40-14 victory over Hudson Valley, giving the Vikings an overall record of 1-1. The Vikings will look to bounce back against a very tough Dean team next week.
“We will figure out the mistakes we made today and get those corrected, and we will just work harder and make sure the kids are better prepared,” said Muehling.
The Vikings will play Dean at home next Saturday, Sept. 19, at 1 p.m.