After losing in their home opener last week to Lackawanna, 40-14, the Hudson Valley Vikings failed to bounce back in their homecoming game Saturday afternoon against the Dean Bulldogs. The Vikings had a rough loss at home for the second straight week as they fell to a very good Dean football team with a final score of 38-14.
Dean were 2-0 coming into the game and had outscored their opponents 76-9 throughout the first two games of the season. Even though it was a new week for the Vikings, this game had a very similar outcome to last week’s loss to Lackawanna.
The Vikings got off to a fast start in the game, scoring on their very first offensive play. On a first-and-10 from their own 20-yard line, the Vikings ran a reverse play and handed the ball to wide receiver Craig Hardgers. Hardgers did the rest, running it 80 yards all the way to the end zone to give the Vikings a very early 7-0 lead over the Bulldogs.
However, the rest of this game was all Dean. They outscored the Vikings 21-0 for the rest of the first half. On Hudson Valley’s second drive of the day, they fumbled the football on their own 15-yard line. This was recovered by Dean. Dean took advantage of this golden opportunity and scored a touchdown on a 5-yard run by their quarterback Jackson McDonald to even the score at 7 each.
Then, later in the first quarter, Hudson Valley again fumbled deep in their own territory, and Dean again scored a touchdown off the turnover. This time, Dean scored after starting at the Hudson Valley 24-yard line and scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to give themselves a 14-7 lead over the Vikings.
On the very next drive, Dean once again started inside the Vikings 30-yard line and scored another touchdown, stretching their lead to 14 over Hudson Valley. Dean quarterback McDonald scored again on a short running play for his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon.
After both teams went scoreless in the second quarter and for a majority of the third quarter, the Vikings tried to fight their way back late in the third quarter. After Vikings starting quarterback Rafael Hidalgo struggled in the first half, Vikings coach Mike Muehling made a change at quarterback for the second half, going with DeAngelo Simpson under center for most of the second half.
“We went to DeAngelo to try and change the pace a little bit, but unfortunately what happened was he [Simpson] got his helmet taken off on one play and we had to go back to Rafael, and then DeAngelo got a little bit hurt, so we had to go back and forth between the two,” said Muehling on mixing and matching his quarterbacks in the second half.
At times in that second half, Simpson showed flashes of what he is capable of doing. With just under two minutes left in the third quarter, starting from the Dean 47-yard line, Simpson helped fuel a 47-yard touchdown drive. This drive concluded with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Simpson to wide receiver Drew Burdsall, cutting the Vikings’ deficit to 7 points and bringing the score to 21-14 Dean.
But less than a minute later, Dean once again extended their lead. After Hudson Valley looked solid on the first two plays of the drive by backing up Dean a combined 10 yards, Dean dropped a bomb on Hudson Valley with a 97-yard touchdown pass to once again give Dean a good two-touchdown cushion over the Vikings. This play proved to be a huge turning point in this game as Dean outscored Hudson Valley 10-0 the rest of the way, leading to a 38-14 victory for Dean over Hudson Valley and giving the Vikings an overall record of 1-2 through the first three games of the season.
“Obviously it was extremely deflating. I mean, we were in the game, and all of a sudden we are not,” said Muehling of the 97-yard touchdown by Dean.
It wasn’t a pretty day for the Vikings offense, as they turned the ball over a total of 6 times with 3 interceptions thrown and 3 fumbles during some key parts of the game. Dean took full advantage of these turnovers, scoring a total of 24 points off them.
“It’s very frustrating. We preach ball security every day, and apparently [we’ve] got to change up what we do,” said Muehling of the six turnovers.
The Vikings will look to bounce back from two straight losses at home, where they were outscored a combined 78-28, and get a win on the road next Saturday at Erie Community College.