The Watauga Harvest Christian Saints scored on a 46-yard fumble recovery, and a 46-yard kickoff return to beat back a late charge and hand the Vanguard Vikings a 43-37 loss Friday night at Paul Tyson Field.
The Vikings, 4-2, and ranked fourth in this week’s TAPPS sixmanfootball.com rankings, erased a two-score deficit and took a 23-21 lead late in the third quarter before the seventh-ranked Saints scored the first of three second-half touchdowns to seal the win.
“We had momentum,” Vanguard coach Zach Seifert said after the loss. “But the fumble turned things around for them.”
The Saints had already retaken the lead on the first play of the fourth quarter when quarterback Luke Young connected with Duncan Severance on a 61-yard catch and run.
They led 29-23, but the Vikings were driving when Joseph Isbell stripped Vanguard running back Kaden Herbert of the ball after a significant gain, and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown. That put Harvest up 37-21.
Vanguard answered with two fourth-quarter touchdowns of its own, including a 7-yard pass from Vanguard quarterback Luke Wilson to Pierce Snokhous that capped a 60 yard drive in only 49 seconds.
Trailing 37-33 with 5:11 left in the game, the Vikings tried on onside kick. But nobody put a body on Nehemiah Clements, and he picked up the kick and raced 46 yards for Harvest’s final touchdown to give the Saints a 43-31 lead.
Vanguard scored quickly on the ensuing drive. After a 35 yard kickoff return by Trevor Leigh, Wilson found Elijah Wade on a 30-yard scoring strike with 4:40 remaining to cut the margin to 43-37.
The Vikings held on downs, and had a chance to mount a game-winning drive with just over a minute to play. But without any timeouts, the drive fizzled at midfield and the Saints ran out the clock.
“It’s going to pay off for us come district time,” Siefert said of playing without three starters. “This is the fourth game we’ve played that’s gone all four quarters. So the young guys are getting some good playing time and they’re getting better.”
Wilson finished with 133 yards and two touchdown on 8-of-22 passing. Kaden Herbert led all rushers with 165 yard on 18 carried and two touchdown runs of 16 yards each.
Luke Young finished with 196 yards on 13-of-19 passing with three touchdowns. Vanguard held Harvest to 105 yards rushing. Andy Cox had three sacks for the Viking defense and Luke Murillo recovered a first-half Saint fumble.
Harvest scored on the game’s opening drive to lead 8-0 before Vanguard tied it on Herbert’s first touchdown run with :30 remaining in the first quarter, following Murillo’s fumble recovery.
Harvest led 21-8 before Carter Klepper scored from 2 yards out just before halftime to make it 21-15.
Vanguard took the lead late in the third quarter on Herbert’s second 16-yard touchdown run at the 401 mark of the third quarter.