ST. GEORGE — With nine seconds left, Riley O’Dell punched the ball across the goal line from a yard out to help the Smoky Valley High School football team escape with a 36-29 win over upset minded Rock Creek.
The Vikings are now 1-0 in districts (5-2 overall), and can clinch a spot in the Class 4A Division II playoffs with a little help from Clay Center. If the Vikings take care of Chapman (1-6) next week, and Clay Center handles Rock Creek next week, both teams will qualify for state.
Smoky Valley came into Friday’s match up as big favorites, but upset minded Rock Creek played like a team with nothing to lose.
It was no secret what Smoky Valley wanted to do when they had the ball. The Vikings have been a run first team all season long, and ran for 384 more yards Friday night.
Kyle Anderson put his team on the board first with a 19-yard dash to make it 6-0 Smoky Valley early in the first quarter.
It was the only score of the first quarter for either side, but it didn’t take long for Rock Creek to find the end zone in the second quarter.
The Mustangs took the lead with a little over nine minutes in the second quarter on a 75-yard bomb from Rock Creek quarterback Cooper Schlochtermeier to Skyler White for the 7-6 lead.
The Vikings held a 415-243 advantage in total offense, but the Mustangs dominated the passing game 182-31.
Four minutes later, Anderson scored his second touchdown of the night, and capped it off with two-point conversion for a 14-7 Smoky Valley lead.
With the second half winding down, O’Dell punched one in from four-yards out, giving the Vikings what appeared to be a two score lead heading into halftime.
But a defining moment of this game came on the ensuing kickoff, as White took the O’Dell kickoff 75 yards for the score which sent the home crowd into a frenzy. The Vikings were forced to settle for an eight-point halftime lead, which was quickly dissolved in the second half.
The Mustangs cut the lead to one off a Schlochtermeier quarterback sneak from the goal line, midway through the third quarter. It remained a 22-21 SVHS lead, until O’Dell broke free from 41-yards out early in the fourth quarter; the two point conversion try was no good, making it a 28-21 Smoky Valley lead.
The Mustangs then took their first lead of the game since the 9:11 mark in the second quarter, off a Scholchtermeier pass to White from seven-yards out. The two then connected again on the two point conversion, giving the Mustangs a 29-28 lead.
Schlochtermeier completed 10 of 18 passes for 172 yards and two scores, while White caught eight of those passes for 155 yards and both scores.
With 4:31 remaining on the clock and down by one, Smoky Valley had one final chance to save themselves from an 0-1 start to districts, which they did with a season saving touchdown from O’Dell.
Anderson finished the day with 180 yards on 34 attempts, while O’Dell ran for 149 yards on 24 attempts. Of the 75 plays the Vikings ran, all but eight were run plays.
The Vikings travel to Chapman next week, with a possible district championship game the following week at home against Clay Center.
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