John C. Longton III, Sports Editor
This was head coach Mike Muehling’s first career win over ASA, who’s been at the school for five seasons . The last time these two teams met ASA left a mark on the Vikings beating them 40-0. That was back in 2012 and the teams haven’t played each other since. With the combination of a bowl appearance from last year and better recruits committing to the college, Hudson Valley toughened their strength of schedule and added ASA back to their calendar.
It was a crucial game that came at a pivotal point in the season. The Vikings really needed a win if they wanted to keep their season and bowl hopes alive. And that’s exactly what they did and more.
Freshman running back Jaylen McIntyre totaled three touchdowns for a Viking offense that seemed to move the ball at will. McIntyre rushed for two touchdowns and 123 yards and also had a receiving score of 27 yards.
“Throughout the week we just had to remain focused,” said McIntyre. “We knew if we beat ASA we could potentially go to a bowl game again.” After Saturday’s game he’s now 7th in the nation in rushing yards per game with 111.
Second year quarterback Rafael Hidalgo also had himself a good game throwing three touchdowns to as many receivers. Late in the second quarter, while his team was up 20-0, Hidalgo took a big hit and had to leave the game. The game had to be stopped while the medical staff attended Hidalgo lying on the field. It seemed as if his day was over, but after the start of the second half he checked back in and finished the game.
“I was nervous I thought I broke something. My hip went numb, but I wasn’t ready to leave it (the game), said Hidalgo.
On the other side of the ball the Viking defense forced five turnovers including three fumbles and two interceptions. Every time the Avengers looked like they were going move the ball the Vikings either stopped them or forced a turnover. The ASA offense was limited to only 181 total yards on 14 possessions, which was a little more than half the yards that the Vikings tallied.
This team has really put it together after a shaky start to the season. In the Viking’s first three games they went 1-2 and since then they have outscored their opponents 151-62.
“We’ve really hit our stride as of late,” said Muehling. “We also caught some breaks. Some people say it’s better to be lucky than good. It feels pretty good to be both lucky and good.”
The Vikings have one regular season game remaining and they need to make a lasting impression on the bowl committee. “We made a statement today and that’s what we set out to do,” said Muehling to his team after the win. “We’ve got one more game against another team I haven’t beaten since I’ve gotten here.”
That game is this Saturday as they host Navy Prep at 12 p.m. on Halloween. Navy Prep has been a traditional power in the NJCAA. Last year the Vikings also concluded their regular season with a game against Navy Prep. Hudson Valley was 8-0 going into last year’s season finale and were handled 27-0. It looked as if the season was over, but a week later Mike Muehling received a call inviting the team to the Salt City Bowl. This year the team needs to win in order to have a chance at a bowl game. Right now there are eight teams in the top 25 that have two losses. If the Vikings can pull of an upset this Saturday they might be able slide into the rankings and possibly get phone call to go to a bowl game.
Rafael Hidalgo is excited to get a second shot at the only team to beat him in his freshman year, “Navy Prep will be a challenge, but we have to practice and not sleep on them.”