LINDSBORG — The Smoky Valley High School football team had its chances, but execution was a problem for the Vikings during their 15-12 loss to Nickerson.
The Vikings moved the ball well, but failed to capitalize and put points on the board. The Nickerson defense was put in some tough spots and exceeded expectations. The Smoky Valley offense turned two Nickerson turnovers into 0 points.
“These are the kind of games we’re going to be in,” Smoky Valley head coach Tim Lambert said. “We made just enough mistakes tonight to get beat.”
The clock ran early and often during the game as both teams heavily favored the run. Smoky Valley had three possessions in the first half and moved the ball well on all of them.
However, the Vikings scored just six points through the first two quarters.
Smoky Valley quarterback Jake Lucas was picked off on the team’s first drive as the team was threatening inside Nickerson territory. On the team’s second drive, the Vikings marched all the way down the field, but fumbled at the Nickerson two-yard line on first and goal.
Nickerson needed less than two minutes to go 98 yards, as running back Jarin Gomez scored on a 60-yard scamper to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead.
Smoky Valley answered back, as Lucas connected with Buster Bengtson on a 10-yard touchdown pass on 4th and 7 with 1:04 left in the half. The two-point try was unsuccessful, and the Vikings went into halftime down 7-6.
The Vikings recovered fumbles inside Nickerson territory on the first two Nickerson drives in the second half, but both times the Smoky Valley offense was turned away without points.
The score remained 7-6 until Andrew Peters ran for a 25-yard touchdown on 4th and 10 to give the Vikings a 12-7 lead with 8:57 left in the game.
Nickerson responded in less than two minutes, as quarterback Tre’ Garcia ran for the go-ahead 18-yard touchdown. After a successful two-point try, Nickerson never surrendered its 15-12 lead.
Despite gaining less yards and committing over twice as many penalty yards as Smoky Valley, Nickerson picked up its first win of the season.
“Our kids played extremely hard,” Lambert said. “We just need to get better.”
Trey Kennedy led the offense with 98 rushing yards on 18 attempts, while Lucas was 4-for-10 for 62 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Kennedy had a team-high 6.5 tackles, while Haven Lyell-Stewart and Raleigh Wilson each had six.
Smoky Valley is now 1-2 on the season and travels to Hesston next Friday.