CHILLICOTHE – The Vinton County Vikings played strong against Zane Trace for three quarters but fell victim to the Pioneers in the fourth quarter.

The Vikings had a 21-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter but gave up 14 unanswered points for their first loss of the season, 28-21, in a non-conference football game on Friday night.

Vinton County (2-1) was scheduled to play at Trimble on Friday. The game, however, was canceled earlier in the week, due to COVID-19. That gave the Vinton County Athletic Department adequate time to schedule with Zane Trace, whose game against Greenfield-McClain was also canceled.

With the game tied, Blake Phillips had an 18-yard touchdown run for the Pioneers with 5:50 left in the fourth quarter, which proved to be the deciding score.

Zane Trace managed 358 total yards, including 93 yards passing by Ben Nickles, with one touchdown and an interception. The rushing attack by the Pioneers scored three times and finished with 265 yards against a Vinton County defense, led by Blake Brown with 9.5 tackles. Broc Moore and Zayne Karr both recovered a fumble for the Vikings, and Brady Woltz had an interception.

Vinton County quarterback Braylon Damron threw for 76 yards and a touchdown on 7 of 10 passing. Caiden Collins had three receptions for 43 yards and a score for the Vikings, while Karr did what he does best – eclipse the 100-yard mark – rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

The game started with Damron marching the Vikings down the field, 55-yards in 11 plays, with little resistance on their opening possession. The drive ended with Karr plunging in the end zone on a 1-yard run, and Josiah Thacker’s kick gave Vinton County a 7-0 lead.

Two Vinton County possessions later, the Pioneers capitalized on a turnover. The Vikings fumbled, and Zane Trace recovered at the VC 20. Four plays later, Phillips scored on a seven-yard touchdown run for a 7-7 tie with 47-seconds remaining.

Neither team could get its offense going in the second quarter until Damron engineered a five-play, 72-yard drive that ended with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Collins to give the Vikings a 14-7 lead with 1:43 left in the half.

Less than a minute later, Nickles capped a 65-yard drive for the Pioneers with a 35-yard touchdown run and a 14-all tie going into the halftime break.

All seemed well after Karr scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Vikings a 21-14 lead late in the third quarter.

The Vikings followed with a fourth-quarter drive deep in Zane Trace’s side of the field. But it ended in the red zone after Zane Trace recovered a fumble at the VC 15.

From there, the Pioneers went 85-yards for the game-tying score, a 12-yard touchdown pass from Nickles to Naylon Robinson with 4:38 left.

Vinton County turned the ball over on downs on its next series, and Zane Trace capitalized, as Phillips capped a six-play, 47-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown run to put the Pioneers up, 28-21, with 2:37 left.

Trying to drive for the game-tying touchdown, the Vikings turned the ball overall on downs at the Zane Trace 28-yard line. The Pioneers held the ball for the final 2:12 of the game to preserve the win.

Scheduled to open Tri-Valley Conference play on Friday at Meigs, Vinton County Athletic Director Matt Combs announced the game is canceled due to COVID-19.