The Hudson Valley football team defeated Monroe College on Saturday (Oct. 10) 45-21 and seem to have turned their season around. After getting off to a slow 1-2 start the team has won its last three games and improved their record to 4-2.
“We really played a complete game,” said fifth year head coach Mike Muehling.
The Vikings owned Monroe on both sides of the ball and really dominated the line of scrimmage. They held the Mustangs to only eight yards rushing on 25 carries. The defense played well and kept Monroe’s offense off the field. The Viking’s time of possession almost doubled the time that the Mustangs held onto the ball.
The Mustangs scored on their first drive, but that was mainly due to penalties. After that they were held to only one offensive score for the rest of the game. The Viking defense forced three turnovers and sacked the quarterback five times. #54 freshman DL Jared Sanchez from Hopewell Junction, and #46 freshman DL Jon Miller from Pelham, led the Viking defense with two sacks a piece.
On the other side of the ball, it was a big day for the Viking’s running game. The Hudson Valley running backs totaled 225 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. #32 freshman RB Jaylen McIntyre, a CBA graduate from Latham, led all Viking rushers with 135 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. #35 freshman RB Jamal Williams from New Bedford, Connecticut, added two more touchdowns on the ground on just six carries.
The Viking offense imposed their will on the Mustang defense, picking up first downs when it mattered the most. Late in the third quarter, the Vikings had a miscue and fumbled a handoff that was returned for a touchdown. This made it a 31-21 game. The Vikings had to come up with a big drive to put the game away and that’s just what they did. They were faced with third and long a couple different times and converted. #83 freshman WR Drew Burdsall from Pennsville, Pennsylvania, found a way to get open and came up with a reception on several third downs.
“Drew Burdsall might be the player of the game,” said Muehling. “He had some really big conversions on third down.” This made Monroe focus more on where he was on the field on third downs. Because of this it freed up other players to find space and make a play.
“Drew made a very big play by making the defense respect him and we got a touchdown for Antoin (Montgomery) because of it,” said Muehling, referring to a scoring play on another third and long conversion. On the play, the Mustang defenders all thought the pass was going to Birdsall, which allowed #1 sophomore Antoin Montgomery, from Syracuse, to get a free release and was left wide open for a 42 yard touchdown reception. That play put the game out of reach and secured a non-losing season for the Vikings.
Next Saturday (Oct. 24) will be a major test for the Vikings as they host the 5-2 ASA Avengers. A possible bowl game lays in the balance for a team that has seemed to put things together as of late.
“We just really have to focus,” sail Muehling. “ASA might be our best opponent of the year. They’re definitely on par with Lackawanna,” he said. The Vikings lost to Lackawanna 40-14 in their second game of the season. The team has gained much more experience since then.
“Mentally, a lot of guys got more focus,” said Muehling.
After the game, Muehling told his team, “Our goal in the beginning of the season was to go to a bowl game and that still remains the goal.” If they can beat ASA this Saturday then they can earn national recognition. “If we win our last two games the phone can still ring,” said Muehling to his players, referring to going to a bowl game.
The football team is hitting its stride just at the right time. They have two more home games and could possible have a bowl berth if they do well. They host ASA on Oct. 24 at 1:30 p.m. and then host Navy prep on Oct. 31 at 12 p.m. for their season finale. Both games should have a playoff atmosphere.