PANDORA — Down 22-20 to Pandora-Gilboa with 3:40 left in the game, Leipsic was in dire need of a big drive after being pinned on its own 4 yard line.
Viking quarterback Drew Liffick delivered when he guided Leipsic 96 yards to help the Vikings post a thrilling 28-22 win over the Rockets in a big Blanchard Valley Conference clash.
The Vikings, ranked No. 8 in Division VII, stays unbeaten at 4-0 and 2-0 in BVC play. The Rockets slip to 2-2 and 1-1 in conference play.
Coming into the second half, Liffick was 0 for 4 and 2 for 8 passing prior to the final drive . But in crunch time, the Viking signal caller came up big. He finished the game 6 of 13 for 67 yards,
Liffick completed three big passes in the 11-play drive, 96 yard drive. Cole Williamson dove in from 1 yard out to notch the winning touchdown and complete the meticulous march down field with 1:01 left on the clock.
Most of Leipsic’s offensive output came from the talented running back combination of Cole Williamson and Juan Pena. Pena, who did most of his damage in the first half, finished with 148 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns. Both of Pena’s trips to the end zone came in the first half.
The heartbreaking loss for Pandora-Gilboa overshadows and tremendous passing performance from quarterback Silas Schmenk. Despite not having one of his top receivers, Brandon Steiner who was out with an injury, finished the game 10 for 23 for 231 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Schmenk’s passing was instrumental in keeping Pandora-Gilboa’s offense rolling throughout the game.
Rocket receiver Walter Macke finished the contest with four catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns and Bryce Basinger hauled in seven catches for 91 yards and one touchdown.
The Rockets opened up a 22-14 lead on their opening drive of the second when Elam Suter booted a 22 yard field goal at the 8:06 mark of the second half.
Leipsic sliced that lead to two points late in the fourth quarter when Williamson scampered in from seven yards out with 7:52 left. However, Leipsic failed to tie the game after a failed two-point conversion.
Pandora-Gilboa looked to extend its lead when they moved the ball down to the 9 yard line and facing a first and goal. But the Vikings made a huge defensive stand and stopped the Rockets at the four on fourth down to take over for what would turn out to be the winning drive.
Pandora-Gilboa owned a 19-14 lead going into the locker room at halftime
The Rockets, on the strength of their passing game, scored all three touchdowns through the air.
Pandora-Gilboa’s first touchdown came on its first possession. After stopping Leipsic on their initial drive, the Rockets took over at their own 19 and proceeded to march 81 yards on 12 plays with Rocket quarterback Silas Schmenk connecting with Walker Macke on a 25-yard strike for paydirt. After the failed extra point, the Rockets led 6-0 with 4:46 left in the first quarter.
Leipsic responded on its next drive and took the lead when the Vikings manufactured a 43 yard drive after getting excellent field position on the kickoff return. Utilizing its stable of backs, Leipsic’s Juan Pena did the honors on a 1 yard plunge for six points. After the successful extra point, Leipsic led 7-6 with two seconds left in the first quarter.
Pandora-Gilboa retook the lead in the second quarter after taking advantage of a Leipsic turnover. Rocket defensive back Bryce Basinger intercepted a pass at the 49 yard line and then on offense Basinger would be rewarded for his defensive efforts when he caught a 53-yard bomb two plays later for the Rockets’ second touchdown. Pandora-Gilboa led 12-7 with a little more than seven minutes remaining in the half after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
The Rockets’ lead was short-lived because less than two minutes later Leipsic’s Pena was celebrating his second touchdown of the night when he ripped of a thrilling 65 yard run on the second play from scrimmage. After the successful extra point, Leipsic led 14-12 with 6:22 left in the first half.
Like the Rockets, Leipsic’s lead did not last long. On the ensuing drive, Pandora-Gilboa answered when the manufactured a 45 yard drive on seven plays that was highlighted by Schmenk finding Macke in the back of the end zone for an 18 yard pass for his second touchdown catch of the night. After kicking the extra point, Pandora led 19-14 with 2:33 left in the first half.