Big plays key Vikings in win over South Putnam

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The final score of a high school football game can be deceiving. The South Putnam Eagles fell to the visiting West Vigo Vikings on Friday night, 33-21.

The two-touchdown difference was not indicative of how closely matched the two teams were. In this type of game, just two or three plays can make a difference. Unfortunately for South, those few plays went against them.

“Those few plays were huge and they went their way each time,” South Putnam head coach Nathan Aker said as his team fell to 3-3 on the season and 0-3 in the tough Western Indiana Conference West Division.

The first of those big plays came on the second play from scrimmage for the Vikings. Jaret McCalister hit Tyler Kernstein with a 54-yard halfback pass to set up McCalister for a five-yard touchdown run. Sean Beaver added the PAT kick and West Vigo led 7-0 before the game was two minutes old.

South Putnam bounced back quickly. Aiden Leblanc took the ensuing kickoff back 56 yards to give the Eagles good field position. South then capitalized with Kyle Shaffer scoring from three yards out and Devon Workman adding the PAT to tie the score 7-all in the first four minutes of the game.

“To get a huge kickoff return right after that (Viking touchdown) showed that the kids are resilient,” Aker said.

The pace slowed down as the two teams failed to generate scoring for the rest of the quarter, but the Eagles scored in the first minute of the second quarter with Shaffer adding his second touchdown run of the night. His two-yard run capped off an eight-play, 55-yard drive and gave the Eagles a 14-7 lead.

West Vigo wasted no time in evening up the score. The Vikings offense picked it up and used nine plays to march 80 yards to even the score on a Clayton Noblitt 16-yard touchdown run. Neither team could pull ahead and the half ended at 14-14.

“They (West Vigo) are big and strong. They are well-coached and made some good plays,” Aker said.

The Vikings struck first in the second half. McCalister scored his second TD of the game, a seven-yard score on West Vigo’s first possession of the third quarter. A bad snap on the PAT kick kept the score 20-14 in the Vikings favor.

The second key play of the game came on the next Eagle possession. South faced a fourth and inches from its own 41-yard line but failed to convert the first down and West Vigo capitalized on the good field position by scoring on a Matt Berkley two-yard run to grab a two-touchdown lead at 26-14.

“We kind of got it taken to us in the third quarter. We talk about that first drive after the half of being important, either stopping them or scoring. West Vigo is a really good football team,” Aker said.

The Eagles still kept fighting. Following the Viking score, South used 10 plays to drive 66 yards and Shaffer punched in his third score of the night from five yards out. Workman’s PAT cut the lead to 26-21 with 8:52 to play in the game.

The Eagles needed a defensive stop and score, but the third key play of the game was made by the Vikings on the next possession. South had the Vikings in a fourth down and four yards to go, but McCalister busted a 16-yard run for a first down. West Vigo eventually scored on the possession on another McCalister touchdown, this time from two yards out to set the final margin at 33-21.

“The kids did a great job of battling to the end. They kept playing and fighting. This loss really hurts, but this game will help us. We took a big step in playing well against a good football team,” Aker said.

The Eagles schedule does not get any easier as they travel to Sullivan to face the West Division leading Golden Arrows next Friday night.

West Vigo 7 7 12 7 — 33

South Putnam 7 7 0 7 — 21

WV — Jaret McCalister 5 run (Sean Beaver kick), 7-0, Q1 10:54.

SP — Kyle Shaffer 3 run (Devon Workman kick) 7-7, Q1 8:13.

SP — Shaffer 2 run (Devon Workman kick) 14-7, Q2 11:10.

WV – Clayton Noblitt 16 run (Sean Beaver kick) 14-14, Q2 6:38.

WV – McCalister 7 run (pass incomplete) 20-14, Q3 7:07.

WV – Matt Berkley 4 run (pass incomplete) 26-14, Q3 :43.

SP – Shaffer 5 run (Workman kick) 26-21, Q4 8:52.

WV – McCalister 2 run (Beaver kick) 33-21, Q4 1:36.


First downs 17 14

Rushes-yards 43-190 44-163

Passing yards 87 82

Comp-Att-Int 4-6-0 5-7-0

Total offense 49-277 51-245

Punts-Avg. 3-31.0 4-32.3

Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0

Penalties-yards 5-40 4-40

Individual statistics

Rushing — West Vigo: Jaret McCalister 18-98, Clayton Noblitt 11-73, Steven Denny 7-35, Matt Berkley 4-24, Jake Lautenschlager 3-(-5). South Putnam: Kyle Shaffer 28-155, Dalton Scott 4-7, Kain Gregory 1-(-13), Christian Zeffell 11-14.

Passing — West Vigo: Lautenschlager 3-5-0 33, McCalister 1-1-0 54. South Putnam: Zeffel 5-7-0 82.

Receiving — West Vigo: Tyler Kernstein 1-54, McCalister 2-5, Noblitt 1-28. South Putnam: Hunter Higgins 4-57, Jonah Sanders 1-15.

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