VALE – Fans attending the annual Nyssa/Vale football game this year received more than the price of one game ticket. Depending on your team choice, you watched one half of your team struggle and one half of your team excel. For one price of a ticket, a fan received two games with the end of the game a victory by the Vikings, 27-21.
For Viking fans, the first half went as planned. Starting with the opening kickoff ran back by TJ Speelman, the Viks were rolling. With Speelman finding the end zone again in the first quarter, Vale led 20-0 at the end of the first quarter of play and looked to roll to an easy victory. Relying on the Viking run game-22 running plays compared to two pass plays in the first half-the Vale defense held the Bulldog offense scoreless on the other side of the ball.
The two teams hit the locker rooms for the half and the homecoming festivities took center stage (congratulations to Sierra Cleaver on being named queen). During the extended half time, it is assumed Vale coach Jeff Aldred told his team to keep up the great play and not allow Nyssa back into the game. On the other side, Nyssa coach Lee Long was probably telling the Dawgs there was still a half left and Nyssa was not out of this game.
Neither coach was wrong. Vale did have to step up and keep the Bulldogs from coming back and stealing the game. Nyssa did get back into the game and came within one catch of catching the bus home with a win.
Statistics for any football game are important. However, there is one stat standing out truly showing the spirit and support shown by both teams. In an unprecedented occurrence, the food concessions by the Vale Lions Club ran out of both hamburgers and hot dogs by the fourth quarter.
Vale totaled 298 yards of total offense. Nyssa totaled 380 yards of total offense. The Vikings relied on the run game with Jared Fulwyler carrying 20 times for 181 yards. Nyssa’s Caleb Benson carried 28 times for 211 yards. Between the two teams, a total of seven passes were caught.
The one pass not completed proved to be the most important.
The Vikings added one score in the third quarter as did Nyssa finding their first touchdown. In the fourth, the Bulldogs found their scoring on the back of Benson. Using the uncommon onside kick after a score, the Dawgs started the last drive of the game, down by six.
The game appeared doomed for Nyssa when a 4th and 12 ended with an incomplete pass and apparent turnover on downs with just over one minute left on the clock. A pass interference call on the Vikings allowed the drive to continue and Nyssa continued the drive down the field.
Sitting on the Vale 22-yard line and with 34 seconds left on the game clock, the last chance for a Nyssa win was just off the fingertips of the receiver in the corner of the end zone. Vale secured the win with a simple kneel down.
The names of the quarterback and receiver on the incompletion are not really important. What is important is the tenacity of two teams situated just miles apart and the games these teams have provided for fans of both teams for years.
The Viks take the win this year. The game switches to Nyssa next year. Seniors will graduate and years from now, recall the Nyssa/Vale game, win or loss. Fans from both teams will hold on to their Munk Black and Blue shirts for years to come.
For players of both teams, thanks. It was a hell of a game to watch and enjoy.
Related: Photo Gallery – Nyssa at Vale Football
Related: Bulldogs push Viks to 4 sets