LEIPSIC – Leipsic didn’t have one of its top weapons.
The Vikings just leaned on running back Gavin Lomeli, with some nice passing from the right arm of Dylan Schroeder sprinkled in.
Leipsic rolled to a physical, 34-13 victory over Hopewell-Loudon Friday at revamped John Edwards Field.
“We’re a physical team,” Lomeli said. “That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve been, and that’s who we want to continue to be. We want to beat everybody up front.’’
With a complete new home-side set of stands and a completely new, first-rate press box, the Vikings pounded the ball on the ground for a 21-7 halftime lead.
Hopewell-Loudon wasn’t able to challenge in the second half, as the Vikings built up its lead to 34-7.
Leipsic is 5-0, 4-0 in the Blanchard Valley Conference. Hopewell-Loudon is 2-3, 1-2 in the BVC.
“We challenged our guys,” Leipsic coach Joe Kirkendall said. “We have to be a more physical football team. We have been, but last week at Van Buren (a 25-20 win), we kind of hit one of those where we weren’t quite on our ‘A’ game, and it showed.’’
Leipsic had to play without the services of wide receiver/defensive back Cole Rieman, who suffered an ankle injury in last week’s game. He was on crutches Friday and is scheduled have ankle surgery.
“Cole is a big part of our team, and he’s not coming back until Week 11 (the playoffs), so we have to find a way to continue without him and keeps these wins going,” Lomeli said.
“We have been this kind of mentality all year,” Kirkendall said. “What Cole gives us is one guy less in the box (from the defense) because he is as good as he is. But I trust (wide receiver) Ty Hiegel and other guys to move the sticks. And the quarterback (Dylan Schroeder) was really, really sharp tonight.’’
The plan for the Vikings was a heavy dose of Lomeli, and he delivered early.
Lomeli finished with 23 carries for 134 yards and three TDs. He had TD runs of 11, 10 and 2 yards. He broke another run for 40 yards.
“When we get hit, we’re going to go forward,” Kirkendall said. “Our bad plays are going to be one and two yards.’’
In the air, Schroeder was very accurate. He completed 8 of 11 passes for 107 yards. He threw two TDs.
Hiegel had four receptions for 61 yards, including an amazing 26-yard TD in the corner of the end zone.
The first time the Vikings touched the ball, they went 65 yards in 11 plays for a score. Lomeli powered it over off left tackle for an 11-yard TD. That gave the Vikings a 6-0 lead with 7:28 left in the first quarter.
Hopewell-Loudon spent the night rotating two quarterbacks, Brock Williams, who was more of a read-option quarterback, and Luke Jameson, more of a passer.
Williams ran for 18 yards on six carries.
“They had not shown the read-option and the option pass this year,” Kirkendall said. “So we were scrambling a little bit (early), but we did a better job of settling in.’’
Jameson completed 18 of 26 passes for 195 yards.
Hopewell-Loudon running back Sam Stickley had nine carries for 45 yards with a 19-yard TD run at the end. He also had a 48-yard TD reception.
Hopewell-Loudon needed only two plays to take the early lead.
On the second play of its first drive, Williams hit Stickley on a screen, and he flew down the left sideline before cutting back to the heart of the end zone for a 48-yard TD.
That gave the Chieftains a 7-6 lead with 1:47 left in the first quarter.
Back to more Lomeli, though. On the third play of Leipsic’s next drive, Lomeli turned the left corner and went 40 yards, to the Hopewell-Loudon 20.
Lomeli capped off the seven-play, 67-yard drive with a 10-yard TD run. He tried the right side of the line, found nothing, then bounced it out around the right end for the TD.
With Lomeli running for the two-point conversion, Leipsic’s lead went to 14-7 with 10:56 before halftime.
Leipsic established the run, and then it was time to throw.
Leipsic quarterback Schroeder hit a leaping Hiegel in the right corner of the end zone for a 26-yard TD.
That gave the Vikings a 21-7 lead with 5:33 left in the first half.
Leipsic closed the half with the Vikings’ Hiegel picking off Jameson at the Vikings’ 13 with 21 seconds before halftime.
“Cole Williamson, our middle linebacker, had undercut the route, which forced a bad throw and Ty (Hiegel) made a great play,” Kirkendall said.
Lomeli’s 2-yard TD run gave Leipsic a 28-7 lead with 4:46 left in the third quarter.
This sets up a battle of the unbeatens next week when McComb travels to Leipsic for a spot atop the BVC.
“That’s going to be a big game,” Lomeli said. “I’m ready to go.’’