Indians hold on after Vikings comeback

Jason WinchellHeadlines, Sports

Vikings quarterback Cole Andrews comes face to face with Darnell Stokes of Indian River, photo courtesy of Mike Lang

Indian River and St. Elizabeth played three close games over the past two seasons, and the Vikings won all three, including last year in a Class 1A quarterfinal. On Friday night at Abessinio Stadium, the teams were neck and neck once again, but this time, the Indians came out on top, taking a 20-14 decision.

The Indians, ranked second in Class 1A by Delaware Live, brought a big roster and a healthy cheering section north from Dagsboro. They went to one of their standout running backs — Jayvion Chandler — early and often, and he opened the scoring early in the second quarter on a 17-yard run to the right side.

But the Vikings had a ground game of their own, and on the first drive of the second half, they struck. Jihad Brown did the honors, going up the middle for 73 yards. St. Elizabeth, however, missed the extra point.

Davon Handy took center stage for IR on the next drive, finding the end zone at the end of an 11-yard run less than a minute after the Vikings’ touchdown. The lead was eight with 9:48 to go in the third.

Undaunted, the Vikings answered quickly.  The big play on the 80-yard drive was a 56-yard catch and run from Cole Andrews to his big brother Gavin. Setting up at the Indians’ 29, St. E’s ran the ball five times, the last one a one-yard plunge for Brown. A two-point conversion tied the score, setting the stage for an entertaining final quarter and a half.

Indian River took possession with 10:17 remaining in the game, going on a drive that would cover 71 yards and more than six minutes. Chandler scampered for 38 yards on first down, but the Vikings’ defense stiffened, and eventually, the Indians faced fourth down and 10. Quarterback Dylan Grise hit Darnell Stokes down the right side to the 17. IR needed six more plays to score, with Grise finishing the drive with a touchdown from a yard out.

St. Elizabeth, beginning at their own 26, moved quickly. Cole Andrews connected on passes of 17 and 23 yards, and an 11-yard run by Brown got St. Elizabeth to the IR 13. Brown went for eight yards on first down, but the Indians’ held on the next two plays. On fourth down, Cole Andrews rolled to his right and, seeing no running lane, threw into the end zone, but the ball bounced off a player in the end zone and fell to the ground.

No statistics were available Saturday. Indian River (2-0) hosts Polytech on Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. The Vikings (0-2) visit McKean on the same day and time.

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