Tippecanoe Valley 54, Wabash 0
The Tippecanoe Valley Vikings hit the road on Friday night to do battle with the Wabash Apaches in a Three Rivers Conference battle. The Vikings marched to their eighth victory on the season, winning 54-0.
On paper, the matchup looked primed to be a blowout with the Vikings dominating opponents all year and Wabash struggling to build much momentum. While the score would indicate that was indeed the case, Wabash fought hard throughout. Turnovers were the catalyst for the Vikings in this one.
The Vikings held a 16-0 lead at the end of the first quarter but things could have been much different. Twice, the Apache offense drove down the field against the Vikings and looked poised to score deep in Tippecanoe Valley territory. The stout Viking defense exhibited why opponents have struggled so much in 2021, though. On both drives, the Vikings intercepted the ball and set up the Valley offense with momentum.
Valley scored again just inside the start of the second quarter to push their lead to 22-0 after a failed two-point conversion. On the ensuing drive for the Apaches, the Vikings forced a fumble before recovering it to take possession once more.
On a third and long early in the second quarter, every Valley fan in attendance found themselves holding their breath. Star quarterback Branson McBrier took a big hit and was slow to get up. Losing McBrier at this junction of the year would have been disastrous for the Vikings. Fortunately, McBrier was able to shake off the hit and stay in the game.
The Vikings couldn’t escape the injury bug quite so easily however as it quickly became apparent that senior Braden Shepherd was dealing with an injury. Shepherd would find himself on the sideline for the second half of the game though he was seen jogging to the bench after the contest.
“We’ll have to find out a little bit,” said Valley head coach Steve Moriarty when asked about the severity of Shepherd’s injury. “It’s unknown at this point. He did have a little bit of an injury there and we sat him out to make sure we didn’t further injure it. There was a couple of other guys with not the same problem but that go injured a little bit. We kept them out the second half as well.”
Coming into the second half, Valley held a 28-0 lead. It was the first time in weeks that an opponent was able to avoid a running clock to start the third quarter against the Vikings. Things wouldn’t stay “close” for long. Two rushing scores from Jamasyn Virgil and Dalton Alber would ice the proverbial cake for the Vikings. The cherry on top came when sophomore phenom Wade Jones stepped in front of an Apache pass for his fifth interception of the season and ran it all the way back for a touchdown. This brought the difference to 48-0 in favor of Valley.
Freshman Brock Derf would add a five-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring for the evening.
“I was pleased with the win,” said Moriarty. “The scoreboard looks nice but there’s a lot to fix. As we get ready to go throughout the playoffs, some of those little things we need to just get a little bit better on and fine-tune and clean things up.
“We know the shelf that we want to get above,” continued Moriarty. “I’m very proud of the effort. We’re still 8-0 and winning 54-0. Having the shutout is very important mentally for the guys to come out and set that edge that we’re not going to give up. Everybody tonight played well. Junior varsity played great in the second half. I was just proud all the way around of our effort and our attitudes.”
The Vikings (8-0, 6-0 TRC) will head home next week to cap off the regular season with the hopes of an outright Three Rivers Conference title. The opponent is a familiar one for the Vikings. The Southwood Knights (4-4) have defeated Valley in their six previous contests dating back to 2013.
Mishawaka 42, Wawasee 7
The Wawasee Warriors have had a rough go of things in 2021, entering Friday night with a record of just 1-6 and coming off a 49-7 loss a week ago at Warsaw. Things did not get much better for the Warriors as they were trounced by Mishawaka on Friday night, losing 42-7 at home.
Coming into play, Mishawaka and Wawasee had faced off against one another just once before. That matchup came in 2020 with Mishawaka gaining momentum after a close first half to post a 42-7 victory.
Mishawaka did its usual job running the ball effectively, getting touchdown runs from Justin Fisher, Brady Fisher and a 78-yard rip from Darion Taylor.
Isaac Valdez paced the Mishawaka defense with a pick six, the Cavemen holding Wawasee out of the end zone until the fourth quarter.
Cam Zimmerman had Wawasee’s lone touchdown on a nine-yard run with just over four minutes left in the contest.
The Cavemen held the Warriors to just 115 yards of total offense, and just 25 passing yards. Brandon Kelly was the top rusher for the Warriors with 30 yards on nine carries. Nathan Larson led the Warrior defense with seven solo tackles.
After dropping to 1-7 on the season, the Warriors will travel to Goshen next week to wrap up the regular season. The RedHawks are coming in fresh off of their first conference win since 2017, a 28-14 victory over lowly Plymouth.
That game was tight until the very end when junior quarterback Quinn Bechtel took control of the game with his legs. Bechtel finished the game with over 150 yards rushing and four touchdowns.