Vikings come up half yard short against Bearcats

Published 8:53 pm Sunday, September 25, 2016

It took the Vikings offense until midway through the fourth quarter to find itself in a 22-10 loss to visiting Battle Creek Central in a game much closer than the final score Friday night.

The Vikings, who gave up a touchdown on the first possession of the game, trailed most of the game 8-0 before a 35-yard Mauricio Aguirre field goal cut the lead to 8-3 with 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Bearcats would respond with a 52-yard touchdown strike with 6:54 remaining in the game that all but appeared to have sealed the victory with the score now 15-3.

It was at this point the Niles offense discovered found itself as Alex Harpenau connected on passes to Tre Gray and Jacob Hamm, while leading the Vikings on an 80-yard drive in just over a minute.

The Vikings capped off the drive with a Harpenau quarterback keeper cutting the lead to 15-10 with 5:50 to play.

After the Vikings defense forced the Bearcats to punt, the offense once again took over, this time 85 yards away from the game winning score.

Again it was Harpenau and Gray doing the damage, while a big pass to Bryce Lake to midfield helped keep the drive alive.

A Mitchell Findeisen run gave the Vikings a first-and-goal just inside the 10-yard line. A short run by Cameron Haines set the Vikings up for second-and-goal from the 8-yard line and that’s when it got exciting for the Vikings and their fans.

A designed pass play for Gray, who was well covered forced Harpenau to scramble for the pylon. Harpenau would race Central’s Jahmiel Wade to the end zone, but it was Wade who had the angle as he was able to get just enough of Harpenau to force his knee to be down around the two with the ball extended to just inside the 1-yard line.

Another quarterback sneak came up short forcing the Vikings into a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line with just seconds remaining.

Niles, with a stacked backfield, ran toward the right side with Findeisen. Just as he approached the line of scrimmage a Bearcat managed to get a helmet on the ball jarring it loose and into the hands of Carlos Parks, who took it 99 yards the other direction for a touchdown giving the Bearcats the victory over the Vikings.

“It’s a play here and a play there,” Niles coach Joe Sassano said. “There are a number of things we could have done or called, but at the end of the day we wanted to see if we could manage one yard somehow.”

The road doesn’t get any easier for the Vikings (3-2) as they have still have Portage Central, Battle Creek Lakeview, St. Joseph and Lakeshore.

A complete box score is available online at



At Niles

Central           8          0          0          14 – 22

Niles               0          0          3          7 – 10

BCC – Darrell Banks 20 pass from Jahmiel Wade (Jahmeil Wade pass from Ahamed Mohanned), 10:18.

N – Mauricio Aguirre 35 FG, 0:45.

BCC – Denzel Banks 52 pass from Jahmiel Wade (Alejandro Bautista kick), 6:54.

N – Alex Harpenau 1 run (Mauricio Aguirre kick), 5:50.

BCC – Carlos Parks 99 fumble return (Alejandro Bautista kick), 0:14.

Varsity records: Battle Creek Central 1-4, Niles 3-2.