WEST TERRE HAUTE —
On a night West Vigo’s 2002 undefeated team was recognized prior to the game, Vikings coach Jeff Cobb thought it fitting that Mother Nature created muddy mayhem of the turf at Jay Barrett Field.
“It was very appropriate. Very smash-mouth football game. This was the type of night [coach] Dave [Cassell] used to love, these type of ball games where the weather plays a part and you get up and you wait for your break to happen and you play keep away after that,” Cobb said. “Winning 7-0 is as good as winning 70-0.”
West Vigo didn’t win 7-0 — the Vikings nearly won 6-0 — but the first score proved to be all they needed to stay in the hunt for a share of the Western Indiana Conference championship with a 12-0 win.
Vikings’ quarterback Jimmy Maples broke a scoreless tie with 7 minutes, 6 seconds left in the third quarter when he hit Tyler Gustafson streaking down the sideline for a 44-yard touchdown on third-and-25.
Gustafson added a 17-yard TD catch with 2:26 left in the game.
“On the first one, I just beat the defender and great throw by Jimmy,” Gustafson said.
The junior receiver’s second score was a bit confusing. He and teammate Skyler Warnock were in the area of Maples’ throw. Gustafson leaped and appeared to catch it and then lose control.
After a brief conversation between two officials, it was ruled Gustafson had control when he came down in the end zone.
“I jumped up, pulled it in and came down. That was it,” Gustafson said. “Now we’ve got Sullivan, who’s always been a rival, on Senior Night. We’re ready to take the championship.”
With wet footballs all night, it was a bit surprising to see two touchdown passes make up the only scoring plays.
“That’s the thing, you’ve got to be smart in games like this, knowing when to pass,” Cobb said. “Try to run as much clock as you can. Once you get the lead, it changes the dynamic of the game. You have to play keep away. We were able to play a lot of the second half on their end, which was nice in that you can take some risks that way.
Field position and ball control are obvious keys when conditions become as treacherous as they were Friday night.
West Vigo’s defense made sure the Vikings got the ball back quickly most of the night, holding the Knights to a total of 33 yards rushing and six first downs.
The West Vigo running wasn’t exactly robust, but the Vikings made enough plays.
Maples plowed straight ahead for a couple fourth-quarter runs through traffic, and Danny Creasey, Jacob Creasey and Warnock each picked up big first downs. Danny Creasey had a game-best burst of 16 yards.
Warnock extended a drive with a four-yard first-down run to the nine-yard line on fourth down, setting up first and goal for West Vigo just ticks before the fourth quarter.
That play put the Vikings in position to extend their lead. On 4th-and-goal at the Knights’ 4, Cobb opted to go for it rather than attempt a field goal.
“Kicking a field goal there, I’ve got a freshman kicker, it’s bad conditions, he’s already missed [an extra point]. You get it blocked and get a scoop and score [for Northview] and it’s a whole different ball game. I’d much rather go with my seniors and that’s what I did there. Worst-case, they’ve got 96 yards to go,” Cobb said.
Jacob Creasey lunged three yards but was stopped at the one-yard line. It was a turnover on downs, but Northview couldn’t work out of the tight space near their own goalline. West Vigo continued to win the battle for field position and time of possession.
Maples provided an interception return of 44 yards when Northview drove late in the fourth quarter with some nice passing by freshman quarterback Tucker Stewart.
The Vikings will play for a share of the WIC title next week on Senior Night.
“This is a good confidence win. Any win against Northview’s a good win,” Cobb said. “Playing Sullivan on Senior Night, there’s going to be a lot of electricity. That’s the way you want to end it for [the Vikings seniors]. Sullivan’s awfully good though.”
West Vigo 12, Northview 0
Northview 0 0 0 0 — 0
West Vigo 0 0 6 6 — 12
WV — Tyler Gustafson 44 pass from Jimmy Maples (kick failed), 7:06 3Q
WV — Gustafson 17 pass from Maples, 2:26 4Q
First downs 6 11
Rushes-yards 29-41 41-141
Passing yds. 79 73
Comp-Att-Int 5-10-1 3-5-0
Punts-avg. 4-32.3 3-30.0
Penalties-yds 2-30 10-75
Fumbles-lost 3-2 2-2
Rushing — Northview, Tucker Stewart 7-22, Jesse Miller 17-18, Jacob Little 5-1. West Vigo, Danny Creasey 16-62, Jimmy Maples 13-34, Jacob Creasey 8-31, Skyler Warnock 4-12.
Passing — Northview, Stewart 5-10-1 79. West Vigo, Maples 3-5-0 73.
Receiving — Northview, Hunter Ragan 1-27, Ben Girton 1-16, Tyler Rector 3-36. West Vigo, Tyler Gustafson 2-61, Danny Creasey 1-12.
Next — West Vigo (5-3, 4-1 Western Indiana Conference) plays host to Sullivan on Friday. Northview (3-5, 3-2 WIC) plays host to Brown County on Friday.