Saturday, September 12, 2009

Success at Home

Viks pull off overwhelming win over Southern Oregon
by Allison Whited
Vanguard Staff

PGE Park on a warm Saturday afternoon in September was meant to be home to a football game. Head coach Jerry Glanville seemed to think the same thing as he led his team to a 34-10 victory over the Southern Oregon University Raiders.

Though it seems to be a strong win and therefore a good indicator of the team's ability, Glanville had no problem finding fault with his team, and justifiably so.

First, there were the six turnovers. Quarterback Drew Hubel threw two interceptions in the third quarter and wide receiver Aaron Woods had three fumbles on punt and kick returns.

Next was the lack of a score coming from the red zone. Last year, the team ranked last in the Big Sky Conference in red-zone offense.

Penalties? Nine flags for 85 yards, including a boneheaded roughing the kicker penalty on a punt that returned possession to Raiders.

Lastly, according to Glanville, the freshmen played like freshmen. Evidence of this came on the Raiders' only touchdown. Early in the fourth quarter, outside linebacker Joel Sisler blew his coverage and allowed a 75-yard pass to speedy receiver Vance Beach.

Despite the obvious negatives, plenty of positives came out of this game.

The first, as Glanville agrees, is the performance of kicker Zach Brown. Last year he traveled listed as an emergency punter, but after this game, it seems like kicking is his niche. He hit field goals from 52 and 46 yards today that would have been good from several more yards out. He also barely missed a 42 yarder.

“We found our kicker today,” Glanville said.

Second would have to be the overall performance of the defense. They stifled the opposing offense and allowed them to complete just 16 of 41 attempted passes. Seniors Erik Pedersen and Jermaine Jacobs had six and five tackles, respectively, assisted and unassisted, while fellow senior Ryan Pedersen racked up five solo tackles, including two tackles for a loss.

The defense also kept a Raiders rushing attack that garnered 242 yards in their season opener to a miserable 12 yards despite 34 hand offs.

When asked about how he felt the defense performed, Erik Pedersen replied that “[they] did pretty good” considering they had to play through 75 offensive snaps. The defense also allowed the Raiders to only convert on six of their 22 attempts at third down.

Another bright spot in the Vikings' game plan was the ability to convert third downs. Though last year they ranked last in the conference with just a 33 percent success rate, in this game they converted on six of 11 attempts for a healthy 54 percent rate.

Last but not least was the explosive play of the defense. On the first possession of the first quarter, Hubel threw a 96 yard touchdown pass to Woods. On the very next one, he threw a 91 yard touchdown pass over the middle to receiver Lavonte Kirven, who showcased soft, beautiful hands throughout the game.

Next week will be a true test of Glanville's Vikings. They will compete against Montana in Missoula in their first conference game.

Glanville says he will inform the squad on Monday that preseason is officially over and that the one-and-one record they have amassed so far doesn't mean anything.

Erik Pedersen, for one, is happy to be getting such a big game out of the way so early in the season.

Montana is "a team that gains momentum as the season goes along. We're still healthy and have a lot of guys ready to hit,” he said.

Montana is the team to beat in the Big Sky, considering they have won or shared the last 11 conference titles. In last year's match up between the two teams, the Grizzlies controlled the ball for a little over 43 minutes. For the Vikings to have any chance at winning, they will have to keep their defense off the field and have a solid day against the run, preventing another 300-plus yard rushing day for the annual conference favorite.

Senior Lavonte Kirven caught three passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's game against Southern Oregon, including this 42-yard touchdown reception.

Photo by Aaron Leopold,
Vanguard Staff