Peterson leads Vikings past Rebels, 24-8
SLAYTON -- In an important game as far as both the Little Sioux Conference standings and the upcoming sectional playoffs are concerned, the visiting Minneota Vikings rallied for a 24-8 victory Thursday evening over Murray County Central.
Minneota did not cross midfield until 8:42 remained in the first half, as the host Rebels had superior field position in the game's first 15 minutes. But once the Vikings got untracked, they scored four unanswered touchdowns, overcoming MCC's early 8-0 lead.
"MCC played outstanding defense in the first half," declared Minneota head coach Chad Johnston. "They had us reeling, but we spread the field more in the second half. We blocked better, which allowed us to run hard and sustain some nice drives."
The victory improves Minneota to 5-2, while MCC -- which could have pulled even with the Vikings in the Little Sioux standings (with a win) -- drops to 3-4.
The game started well for the Rebels as they stopped the Vikings cold on Minneota's first two possessions. In between those two defensive stands, MCC put together a good march of its own, moving the ball to the Viking 10-yard line before stalling.
With field position in its favor, MCC scored on its second drive when sophomore quarterback Kyle DeLong tossed the ball over the Minneota defense to a wide open Paul Counter. The senior veteran hauled in the aerial -- on a fourth-and-seven situation -- for a 37-yard touchdown play.
MCC senior running back Jeremy Storm charged through a huge hole for the two-point conversion and with 2:13 remaining in the first quarter, the Rebels held an 8-0 lead.
"We started out well," MCC head coach Chris Davis said. "Our defensive effort was good most of the game. Give Minneota credit, they have a solid offense with an exceptional back (Craig Peterson). On top of that, the Vikings controlled our running attack, which limited our play action ability and passing effectiveness."
Peterson, who has rushed for over 1,000 yards this season and is averaging nine yards per carry, was a workhorse for the Vikings. After carrying 13 times for 44 yards in the first half, the 5-10, 180-pound senior finished the game with 147 yards on 33 carries.
"He is the heart and soul of our team," praised Johnston. "He runs hard and gets extra yards with his second efforts."
After a rush by Peterson moved the Vikings into MCC territory for the first time in the game -- over three minutes into the second quarter -- the Rebel defense held again, forcing a Viking punt on a fourth-and-13 from midfield.
But the field position battle had tilted to the Vikings and after MCC faced a fourth-and-six from its own 16-yard line, the game's biggest play happened.
LeDong punted the ball over the head of Viking returner Jacob Cheadle -- and in fielding the ball, the freshman back bobbled the football.
Cheadle, who has great speed, maintained control and dashed untouched down the left sideline for a 61-yard punt return TD, putting the Vikings on the scoreboard with 4:59 showing on the second quarter clock.
"That was the turning point play of the game," said Davis. "The bobble caused us to break down in our coverage lanes and that kid has tremendous speed."
After that, the Vikings began to move the ball, as Peterson churned out the yards.
Minneota quarterback Sam Derynck capped a seven-play, 30-yard drive with a 5-yard TD burst with 1:32 left in the half.
Holding a 12-8 lead, the Vikings sustained a time-consuming, 16-play, 84-yard drive on their first possession of the third quarter to take an 18-8 advantage with 1:44 to go in the period. Peterson's two-yard plunge finished the drive.
"That was a great drive by our team," praised Johnston. "We completed a key pass on fourth-and-six from the MCC 24-yard line to keep it going."
Minneota scored again with 5:08 to play in the game on a 14-yard pass play from Derynck (7-of-17, 58 yards) to Peterson on a fourth-and-four situation.
Minneota, which never converted a point after, finished with a total of 242 yards of offense on 62 plays, compared to MCC's 156 yards on 47 plays.
The Vikings had the ball for 33 minutes, while the Rebels had possession for 15 minutes.
Blaine Jacobson (11 carries, 37 yards) and Storm (10 rushes, 32 yards) led MCC's ground game, while DeLong was 5-of-14 passing for 57 yards.
MCC hosts Adrian Wednesday and Minneota hosts Tracy-Milroy-Balaton the same night.
Minneota 0 12 6 6 -- 24
MCC 8 0 0 0 -- 8