RIPLEY - Those pesky Vikings just didn't give up. Ripley hosted No. 13 South Charleston on senior night Friday evening and pulled an upset over the No. 13 Black Eagles in a hard fought 7-6 victory.
Just last week South Charleston scored 70 points in a victory over Nitro.
Jacob Lewis blocked a South Charleston extra point with barely three minutes to go in the game, Brandon Tolley recovered a fumble and Jordan Vandergrift sacked South Charleston quarterback Kentre Grier with seconds to go to preserve the victory.
Death Valley went wild for the Vikings.
Running back Tyler Pittenger scored the only touchdown for Ripley, which was all their defense needed on this night.
"The kids didn't give up. They bought into the gameplan and they earned this win," said Viking skipper Jimmy Frashier after the game. "I couldn't be happier for them."
Ripley moves to (4-5) on the season and the Black Eagles fall to (5-4) and could quite possibly miss the playoffs due to this setback.
Both teams remained scoreless through the first quarter before the Vikings put together a 57-yard drive that was capped off with a sprint to the corner of the end zone by Viking senior tailback Tyler Pittenger. With 10:09 to go in the first half, Pittenger scampered 10 yards for the score. Easton Berry nailed the extra point that would become decisive in this game. Ripley led 7-0.
It's not that South Charleston didn't move the ball. Signal Caller Kentra Grier led his team on three solid drives in the opening half that sputtered prior to the red zone due to tenacious defense from the hungry Vikings.
Ripley got to the dual-threat quarterback five times on the evening and forced him into a fumble and an interception.
While Ripley held the highly touted receiver Travon Reese to five catches for seven yards, wideout Kevin Forrest was able to spring for seven catches for 147 yards.
Ripley blocked a Black Eagle field goal attempt in the second and returned it for a touchdown but the play was inadvertently called dead by an official.
The teams went to halftime with Ripley up by a touchdown. Ripley coach Jimmy Frashier was pleased with his team's effort at the half but had positive things to say just prior to the second half.
"This team (South Charleston) has the weapons to hang 40 points on you in a hurry. We made some adjustments in there and our kids are playing at a high level."
Ripley began moving the ball methodically in the third period eating up precious clock. The Vikings would lead in time of possession in this game by five minutes, which proved key in the victory.
Viking quarterback Jake Martin would run the ball twenty times on this night. The sophomore gunslinger completed a stellar 60 percent of his passes mostly on short dunks to Quaseem Fields and tight end Nate Donohew in space where the receivers could create yards after the catch.
It's worthy noting that Martin stepped in at quarterback for Trevor Tucker who had knee surgery after game three this season. Martin has done all and more the coaches have asked from him and has gotten better with each game.
Trevor's brother Nathan, a linebacker, got the hit of the night on a South Charleston ball carrier when he blasted the runner on a short gain that made a bone-chilling popping noise heard throughout Death Valley on this rainy night.
South Charleston drove to the red zone early in the fourth period and were denied on downs by the Viking defense inside the five yard line. Ripley had to punt from their own endzone, giving South Charleston some easy real estate to deal with.
At the 8:50 mark in the fourth quarter and a third and long dialed up for South Charleston, things got a bit dicey.
Grier took a five-step drop and lofted a weak but accurate pass across the middle to Forrest on a slant pattern and the receiver took it 47 yards to bring his team to a first and goal situation.
Two plays later after the Vikings drove them back six yards, the Black Eagles punched it in when Grier scored on an 8-yard scramble that appeared to be a busted play.
Jacob Lewis, who played a ferocious game that included two quarterback sacks, blocked the extra point attempt and put the Vikings in the driver's seat of their own destiny.
South Charleston would briefly have possession but Jordan Vandergrift came up big for his team as he threw Grier to the turf like a dog tossing a chew toy for his second sack on the night.
"We made plays in all three phases of the game when we needed to tonight," said Viking senior offensive lineman Andy Mellert.
Ripley took the ball and went to their ground game. They pounded the ball with the one-two punch of Pittenger and Martin. On a key third and long, Martin broke free to the strong side for a 27-yard run that caught Black Eagle corners in man coverage. Martin was one downfield block away from going to the house. The first down was secured and the Vikings ran out the clock to upset the Black Eagles, 7-6.
The Viking faithful ran to the field and congratulated their hometown heroes. Coaches and players embraced and the seniors received a key victory in their tenure as Viking pigskinners.
"I'm proud of my guys. They watch a lot of film on their own and they did a good job sizing up their opponent. A great win for these guys. They deserve it for all the hard work they put in," said coach Frashier after the victory.
For Ripley, Martin threw for 43 yards and was picked off once. He led the team in rushing with 75 yards. Tyler Pittenger had 21 yards on 16 carries. Bryan Rhodes had six carries for 11 yards, Jacob Kay had a carry for three yards and Austin Hileman had a carry for a single yard.
Ripley was outgained 321 yards to 154. Ripley won the turnover battle having two to the Black Eagles three. Both teams were penalized five times.
RECEIVING - Ripley were led by Fields with five catches for 18 yards, Pittenger had two for two yards and Nate Donohew had two for 24 yards.
DEFENSE - Justin Hinzman had eight tackles and a pass deflection, Jacob Lewis had seven and two sacks, Kade Harrison had six and a pass deflection, Bryan Rhodes had six, Preston Martin had five, Nathan Tuckerm Austin Hall and Daryl Hicks had four, Jordan Vandergrift had three and two sacks, and Levi Bryant had one tackle on the evening.
SPECIAL TEAMS - Jacob Lewis blocked an extra point, Caleb Jennings had one punt for 41 yards and averaged 53 yards on two kickoffs. Ryan Stutler had a 23 yard kickoff return and Fields netted 14 yards on a single return and 26 yards on two punt returns.
The Vikings are idle this week but return to action November 2 at Ravenswood for the 2012 "Hatchet Game". See full previews and coverage in issues of Jackson Newspapers.