Vikings stop Chiefs at the goal line on final play of the game to win 32-26
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Grayling Vikings were down 20-6 late in the third quarter of Thursday night’s varsity football game at Cheboygan – a Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends Division contest, the first league match of the season for both schools – but they battled back, tying the game at 20-20, and they eventually completed the comeback with a goal line stand in the final seconds of regulation to seal the win. The final score was Grayling 32, Cheboygan 26.
The Chiefs scored first. Cheboygan returned the opening kickoff to its 48-yard line. The Chiefs ran the ball into the end zone on 1st and goal – the eighth play of the possession – for a four-yard TD. Cheboygan completed a pass for the two-point conversion. The Chiefs led 8-0.
On 4th and 2 – the sixth play of the series for Grayling – the Vikings went for it and did not gain enough for a first down.
Cheboygan took over 42 yards from the end zone. The Chiefs picked up one first down, moving inside Grayling’s 20-yard line. Later, on 4th and 11, Cheboygan went for it, completed a pass, but the Vikings tackled the receiver short of the first down marker.
Grayling took over at its 11-yard line. A toss to running back Zack Osga gained six yards. Quarterback Logan Joseph passed to receiver Nick Hunter for a gain of seven yards. Later, on 3rd and 12, Joseph threw to Osga and the play gained 16 yards and a first down. Passes to Osga and receiver Ken Dutton picked up another first down. Two penalties moved the ball back, and the series ended with a punt on 4th and 21.
On 3rd and 9 – the third play of the possession for Cheboygan – the Chiefs fumbled the ball and Eli Jackson recovered it for the Vikings 21 yards from the goal line.
A pass to Hunter gained six yards on 1st and 10. On 2nd and 4, Joseph threw to Hunter for a 15-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
With 9:48 left in the second quarter, Cheboygan led 8-6.
The Chiefs drove 71 yards on 10 plays, scoring on a nine-yard TD run on 1st and goal. On the two-point conversion play, Parker Dole deflected Cheboygan’s pass attempt. With 5:32 left in the first half, the Chiefs led 14-6.
Grayling’s next series ended with a punt on 4th and 10.
The Chiefs drove into Grayling territory, but the possession ended on downs with a rushing play on 4th and 14 that did not gain enough for a first down.
Grayling punted on 4th and 3.
Cheboygan took over at Grayling’s 44-yard line with 6.5 seconds remaining in the second period. On 1st and 10, the Chiefs ran the ball, fumbled, and TJ Hart recovered the football for the Vikings. First half over.
The score at halftime was Cheboygan 14, Grayling 6.
After the kickoff to start the third quarter, the Vikings started at their 47-yard line. Joseph rushed for 10 yards on 1st and 10. Later, on 3rd and 7, an interception ended the drive.
On 4th and 10 – the ninth play of the Cheboygan’s next possession – the Chiefs went for it and Dole sacked the quarterback, forcing a turnover on downs.
On 2nd and 12, Cheboygan intercepted a Grayling pass attempt, giving the Chiefs the ball at their 34-yard line.
Cheboygan drove 66 yards on eight plays, scoring on a four-yard TD run on 2nd and goal. The Chiefs completed a pass on the two-point conversion attempt but the Vikings stopped the receiver short of the goal line.
With 1:56 left in the third period, Cheboygan led 20-6.
The kickoff by the Chiefs went out of bounds at Grayling’s 42-yard line. Jackson, playing QB, rushed for 14 yards on 1st and 10. On the next play, Jackson completed a deep pass to Hunter for a 44-yard touchdown. Jackson ran the ball across the goal line for the two-point conversion.
With 1:34 remaining in the third quarter, Cheboygan’s lead was 20-14.
The next drive for the Chiefs ended on downs, giving Grayling the ball at its 27-yard line.
A pass from Jackson to Dutton gained eight yards on 2nd and 11. On 3rd and 3, Jackson completed a short pass to Hunter and he got free for a 66-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt was not successful.
With 9:52 left in regulation, the score was tied at 20-20.
Cheboygan drove 62 yards on nine plays, scoring on a nine-yard TD run on 1st and goal. Two-point conversion attempt, no good. The Chiefs led 26-20 with 6:11 left in the fourth quarter.
Dole returned the kickoff to Grayling’s 30-yard line. Hunter rushed for three yards on 1st and 10. On 2nd and 3, Jackson completed a short pass to Osga, who broke through for a 67-yard touchdown. Cheboygan stopped Grayling’s two-point conversion attempt.
With 5:23 left in regulation, the score was Vikings 26, Chiefs 26.
Cheboygan returned the kickoff to its 43-yard line. On the fourth play of the drive, 4th and 3, the Chiefs went for it and Grayling stopped the runner short of the first down marker.
The Vikings took over at the 50-yard line. On the first play of the series, Osga broke free for a 50-yard TD. The two-point conversion attempt ended with an incomplete pass.
With 3:05 left in the game, Grayling led 32-26.
It all came down to the final possession. Cheboygan started at its 27-yard line with 2:59 left after the kickoff. Two running plays picked up enough for a first down. Later, on 4th and 7, the Chiefs completed a pass to keep the drive alive. Cheboygan rushed for 19 yards on the next play, bringing up 1st and goal. The Chiefs ran the ball, no gain. On 2nd and goal, with 30.7 seconds left, Cheboygan ran it again and picked up four yards. On 3rd and goal, with 11.9 second remaining in the contest, the Chiefs were called for a false start penalty. On 3rd and goal from the 7-yard line, Cheboygan ran the ball and Grayling’s defense stopped the ball carrier short of the goal line. Time expired. Game over.
The Vikings won 32-26.
“It was a great win for the kids and Viking Nation. There were a lot of ups and downs throughout the game and the kids kept battling until the very last play. I am proud of how they continued to fight through the adversity,” Coach Eric Tunney said. “Offensively we had some guys make some big plays and the defense kept us in it. To win a game on a goal line stand as time expired is about as thrilling as you can get. We still have a lot of work to do, but we grew as a team and I’m happy for the kids to get this (win) in dramatic fashion.”
Jackson finished with 185 passing yards and three TDs. Joseph had 90 passing yards and one TD. Hunter caught seven passes for 138 yards and three TDs. Osga had 56 rushing yards, 103 receiving yards, and two TDs.
On defense, Jackson had 14 tackles. Dole had 12 tackles. Justin Youngblood had 11 and Miguel Quinones had 10.5.
Grayling (1-1 overall, 1-0 league) will host the Kingsley Stags at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7.