In a Western Indiana Conference high school football game in which both teams were dominant at one time or another Friday night, halftime adjustments proved to be the difference as visiting West Vigo spoiled the South Vermillion homecoming with a 41-21 win.
The Vikings scored with the help of a couple of unexpected plays and thanks to a big night by running back Danny Creasey — a big night by pretty much all the Viking runners, in fact — but they still might not have won if they hadn’t found a way to slow Tanner Akers of the Wildcats.
Akers, one of the few seniors on a young South Vermillion team, had a homecoming game high school football players dream about, gouging huge chunks of yardage out of the West Vigo defense early while rushing for 178 yards and scoring three touchdowns — one of those while on defense.
But that third-quarter defensive score was the only one the home team managed in the last 34 minutes of the game, and in the second half it was West Vigo controlling the ball, the clock and the game with its ground attack.
It was undoubtedly West Vigo’s reputation as a running team that made the first play from scrimmage work — a short pass from Jimmy Maples to Creasey that the West Vigo running back turned into an 85-yard scoring play.
If the Wildcats were surprised, however, they weren’t intimidated. They forced fumbles on West Vigo’s next two possessions — Aeron Goodman and Dalton Rowe coming up with the recoveries — and turned the first of those into what should have been a scoring drive. A pass completion by Adam Crouch looked to be a touchdown, except West Vigo’s Andy Velazquez knocked the ball away at the goal line and Dakota Short recovered in the end zone.
That was the last completion for either team in the game, incidentally.
South Vermillion turned the second fumble recovery into a three-play, 36-yard drive — three runs by Akers. After a punt by the Vikings, the Wildcats marched 56 yards in five plays — three of those runs by Akers — and took a 14-7 lead with 10:37 left in the second quarter.
West Vigo tied the game in a little more than three minutes, a 61-yard, eight-play drive capped by Creasey’s 17-yard run. The next two Wildcat punts netted just six yards, and the visitors went ahead with scoring drives of 42 yards — Short scoring on a 5-yard run — and 37 yards. A fake punt on the latter drive kept the ball in West Vigo’s possession as the clock ran down before halftime, and a 9-yard run by Maples with 13.3 seconds left made it 28-14 at halftime.
“We did everything we thought we were going to do,” coach Chuck Sorrell of the Wildcats said after the game. “We made a couple of mistakes — lined up wrong, had a holding penalty, gave up that fake punt because we weren’t paying attention ... a lot of these were young mistakes. We’re still teaching the game of football.”
Akers had 125 yards on 10 carries when he scored his second touchdown early in the second quarter, and he had 146 at halftime. In the second half, however, the same holes weren’t there.
“My men up front opened some holes for me,” the Wildcat senior said after the game, “but [the Vikings] adjusted on us.”
“We were misaligning [in the first half],” coach Jeff Cobb of the Vikings explained afterward, “and [the Wildcats] were deciding where to go based on how we lined up. [Akers] ran well though.”
“[The Vikings] made adjustments at halftime and kind of shut us down,” Sorrell added. “It was a good adjustment for them ... [West Vigo] is always going to be coached really well.”
With Akers under control, the highlight back the last two quarters was Creasey. Although the fumble that Akers plucked out of the air and returned 46 yards to the end zone late in the third quarter made it a one-touchdown game, Creasey and the Vikings responded with drives of 74 yards in 12 plays, then a clinching 48-yard drive after the Wildcats were stopped on a fourth-down play.
Creasey had both the fourth-quarter touchdowns, but although his 166 yards in 22 carries was a career high, he only matched his best single-game touchdown output.
“It was my career high [in rushing] and I tied my touchdowns,” he said. “I was hoping for five [touchdowns],” he added, grinning.
“Our linemen had great push tonight,” he added, more seriously. “A lot of us pushed ourselves to the limit to win this game.”
“Give a lot of credit to South Vermillion,” Cobb said. “They were fired up and they came out and played outstanding. Give our kids credit too. They had to overcome five fumbles, three of which we lost ... the kids played hard, but we’ve got to take care of the ball.”
The Vikings, who rushed for 356 yards, are still unbeaten in WIC games and have their own homecoming next Friday against Edgewood.
South Vermillion now has two conference losses, but showed Friday they are ready to become a regular factor in the conference race.
“A break here or there, and this game could’ve gone either way,” Sorrell said.
“The future is bright,” added Akers. “If these boys keep working hard in the summer, our program can be really good.”
West Vigo 41,
South Vermillion 21
West Vigo 7 21 0 13 — 41
South Vermillion 7 7 7 0 — 21
WV — Danny Creasey 85 pass from Jimmy Maples (Hunter Voils kick), 11:38 1st
SV — Tanner Akers 6 run (Daniel Shew kick), 2:03 1st
SV — Akers 8 run (Shew kick), 10:37 2nd
WV — D.Creasey 17 run (Voils kick), 7:16 2nd
WV — Dakota Short 5 run (Voils kick), 3:56 2nd
WV — Maples 9 run (Voils kick), 0:13.3 2nd
SV — Akers 46 fumble return (Shew kick), 1:12 3rd
WV — D.Creasey 24 run (kick failed), 8:14 4th
WV — D.Creasey 9 run (Voils kick), 1:24 4th
First downs 23 9
Rushes-yards 59-356 36-194
Passing yards 85 22
Comp-Att-Int 1-2-0 1-9-0
Return yards 20 46
Punts-avg 2-31.5 5-19
Fumbles-lost 5-3 2-2
Penalties-yards 6-63 5-46
Rushing — West Vigo, D.Creasey 22-166, Short 8-64, Maples 12-64, Skyler Warnock 8-33, Jacob Creasey 6-31, Derrick 1-1, team 2-(-3). South Vermillion, Akers 25-178, Shew 3-18, Adam Crouch 8-(-2).
Passing — West Vigo, Maples 1-2-0 85. South Vermillion, Crouch 1-9-0, 22.
Receiving — West Vigo, D.Creasey 1-85. South Vermillion, Logan Waldrop 1-22.
Next — West Vigo (3-2, 2-0 WIC) hosts Edgewood next Friday. South Vermillion (2-3, 1-2) hosts Rockville that night.