The poor weather didn’t stop the Tippecanoe Valley faithful from coming out in droves to Smith-Bibler Memorial Field Friday night for Senior Night. The Vikings didn’t disappoint their fans, demolishing the visiting Bremen Lions 51-16 to finish off a perfect 9-0 regular season. It’s the seventh time in team history that Valley is undefeated headed into the playoffs.
“Credit to our coaches, our players for all of their hard work,” Valley head coach Steve Moriarty said. “These kids are working before the sun comes up some days. It’s been an honor coaching this special group. These seniors are going to be successful in whatever they want to do in life.”
The win was the 50th of Moriarty’s career.
The Viking offense took the field to start the game, playing without Nate Parker for the second straight week as he nurses an injury. Valley didn’t seem to miss him much on the opening possession, as the Vikings took the ball down the field with relative ease before stalling out in the red zone, settling for a 30-yard field goal by kicker Gage Overbey.
Valley’s first defensive possession was its best of the first half, as the Vikings were able to force a fumble a few plays into the drive, which would be recovered by senior Landon Durkes, setting his offense up on Bremen’s side of the field. It didn't take long for Valley to take advantage of the turnover, as two plays and 30 seconds later, Wes Parker was able to break free for a 31-yard touchdown run to give the Vikings a 10-0 lead seven minutes into the game.
It didn’t take the Lions long to respond. On the ensuing kickoff, Reece Greene fielded the ball at the one-yard line, then raced past a series of defenders into open field. Greene was able to outrun the final two Vikings in his path, taking the kick 99 yards to the house.
Needing to get one back to keep Bremen at bay, Valley put together a very nice drive following the Bremen score, methodically going down the field on its way to a long touchdown drive. Wyatt Hart, who was filling in for the injured Parker as the lead back, was big for his team on this drive, ending it with his first varsity touchdown, a four-yard score.
“Tonight was one of those nights we knew Wyatt had in him. He was nervous this afternoon but really excited,” Moriarty said. “I told him I’d buy him three double cheeseburgers from McDonalds if he got over 80 yards… I might have to get him four.”
Tippecanoe Valley junior Wyatt Hart makes a hard cut while picking his way through the Bremen defense during the first quarter. Photo by Gary Nieter
The second quarter began with the Lions getting the ball back and turning their possession into points with a field goal. It looked as if the Vikings were going to get off of the field earlier in the drive, but a long pass flipped the field and led to the points.
The next drive for the home side ended in points as well, as Hart found the end zone for the second time in the first half on a 15-yard scamper. The Lions would answer with yet another field goal, giving the Vikings the ball back with less than two minutes left.
After a great return on the kickoff by Cody Black, the Viking offense got back to work, with quarterback Cody Eastgate putting together another great drive. Eastgate was crisp all night long, getting the ball out on time and putting his receivers in a position to make plays. After a nice completion to Durkes was downed at the five, Dalton Alber would come in, shed a few tackles, and score Valley’s fourth touchdown of the first half.
After allowing another field goal as time expired in the first half, the Vikings returned to the defensive side of the ball to begin the second. It was a great opening possession for the Wrecking Crew, as Valley forced a three-and-out to get the ball right back. It didn’t take long for the home side to add to their lead once again, as Hart made it a hat trick on a 48-yard run for his third touchdown of the game, making it a 37-16 game.
The Vikings forced another punt their next time out, but quickly gave the ball back to the Lions as a pass by Eastgate slipped out of his hands for a pick. It didn’t matter much though, as Valley was able to force a turnover on downs a few plays later. After getting the ball right back, senior Trent Marshall got in on the fun, racing 38 yards for a long touchdown to make it a 28-point game.
As the fourth quarter began, it looked as if Bremen was about to score its first offensive touchdown of the game as the Lions’ drive had reached the red zone. It would not come to be, however, as Wade Jones, who has been a ballhawk all season long, won a jump ball to come up with his sixth interception of the season.
“We had a great gameplan on defense, I think we executed really well in the second half. They got that one kickoff but other than that it was a few field goals. Really pleased with the effort,” Moriarty said.
A possession later, after the Vikings gave the ball right back, Jones came up big defensively once again. The senior read the play perfectly, jumping his receiver’s route, tipping the ball up in the air to himself before coming down with a very impressive interception.
The second pick by Jones was just what the Vikings needed. Another nice drive headlined by Hart and Marshall would result in a touchdown, with Hart getting into the end zone for the fourth time in the contest, this time on a 25-yard run to wrap up the game’s scoring.
Hart led all runners with 183 yards on 18 carries with the four scores. Eastgate threw for 104 yards on eight completions.
Tippecanoe Valley will begin a gauntlet of a sectional run with a game at 3A No. 1 Indianapolis Bishop Chatard on Friday night.
“This is where we knew the season was heading. When it started off we had a new schedule against teams we were unfamiliar with and each week these guys have given their all into getting better. We can’t wait for Friday night.”