McARTHUR - The Vinton County Vikings suffered its fifth consecutive defeat on Friday night, falling to the Minford Falcons 28-21.
The Vikings led for the better part of the contest, aided by 141 penalty yards for the Falcons.
In the end, Minford's defensive play won the day. The entire game turned on a 19-second span late in the fourth quarter, in which the Falcons scored the tying, and then game-winning touchdowns.
With the loss, Vinton County dropped to 1-6 on the season, while Minford improved to 6-1.
From the outset, it appeared that Vinton County would be challenged on defense. The Vikings won the coin toss and deferred their choice until the second half. On its opening possession, Minford drove 65 yards in three plays, capped by a 59-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Kelton Kelley to sophomore wide receiver Matthew Risner. Kelley ended the night with 10 rushes for 54 yards and one fumble, to go along with 10 pass completions on 17 attempts for 128 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Risner had four carries for 23 yards, and six pass receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns for the Falcons.
Late in the first quarter, the Vikings answered the challenge, going 66 yards in eight plays, to narrow the score to 7-6 on a four-yard touchdown run by junior running back Jacob Wells. Wells finished the contest with six rushes for 29 yards and one touchdown. Eli Downs' kick was unsuccessful. Downs ended the game with two points-after-touchdown on three attempts.
The Vikings took the lead on their first possession in the second quarter on a three-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on a 59-yard run by senior running back Cade Sibner. On the night, Sibner had 14 rushes for 133 yards and one touchdown, including two pass receptions for three yards. A successful two-point conversion gave Vinton County a 14-7 lead at halftime.
Vinton County picked up where it left off to start the second half, completing an 85-yard touchdown drive with a 70-yard scoring pass from freshman quarterback Braylon Damron to senior wide receiver Lincoln Hayes. Damron had six carries for minus-21 yards and one fumble. He completed 8 of 20 pass attempts for 156 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Hayes had two pass receptions for 93 yards and one touchdown. The successful point-after-touchdown by Downs gave the Vikings a 21-7 lead.
The Falcons trimmed the lead late in the third quarter when they began a drive at their 47-yard line. Four plays later, Minford scored on a 37-yard touchdown pass from sophomore backup-quarterback Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis to Risner. Vogelsong-Lewis finished the contest with 19 rushes for 64 yards, three pass receptions for 29 yards, and two pass completions on four attempts for 50 yards, including one touchdown and one interception. Yuhas added the point-after-touchdown to cut Vinton County's lead to 21-14.
The fourth quarter proved to be the decisive frame. Midway through the quarter, the Falcons took possession of the football on their 27-yard line. Twelve plays into the drive, Minford found itself on the Vinton County one-yard line. On the next play, the Falcons fumbled, and the Vikings recovered. On the very first play after the change of possession, Vinton County fumbled, and Minford recovered the football in the end zone for a touchdown. A successful point-after-touchdown by Yuhas evened the game at 21 apiece.
Less than 20-seconds later, disaster struck the Vikings, as the Falcons intercepted a Vinton County pass and returned it for the game-winning touchdown. Yuhas kicked the point-after-touchdown to make the final score 28-21 in favor of Minford.
Vinton County had help on offense from junior wide receiver Will Arthur (one pass reception for 14 yards) and sophomore wide receiver Koby Waugh (one pass reception for 17 yards).
Arthur, Wells, and sophomore defensive backs Zack Radabaugh and Elijah Williams led the Vikings on defense.
Vinton County will travel to Bidwell on Friday night to take on River Valley. The Raiders have lost to Dawson-Bryant, Gallia Academy, Portsmouth, Nelsonville-York, Meigs, Wellston, and on Friday, they lost to Alexander 10-6 to remain winless on the season.