Vikings advance to second round of playoffs
Chris Ferguson, Campus Carrier Asst. Sports Editor
Video by Allie Pritchett, Viking Fusion Executive Director
Saturday afternoon, Berry football bested the Huntingdon Hawks in a 34-20 win. This game will go down in program history as the Vikings’ first NCAA Division III playoff win. The team’s overall record has now increased to a perfect 11-0.
The Hawks had a large fan base for this game which took up the entire visitor stands. However, there were multiple times when their crowd stood silent, watching the Vikings continue to increase their lead throughout the game.
There were several standout performances by many Vikings players that allowed the team to secure this victory.
On the offensive side, Junior Slade Dale had seven-for-12 completions with two total touchdowns. Junior Tate Adcock had 4-for-6 completions with one touchdown. Sophomore Mason Kinsey, Senior Trey Ciresi, and Junior Adam Taylor all recorded 1 receiving touchdown. Junior C.J. Stone had a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Berry’s offense is also ranked third in Division III for red zone scoring opportunities, scoring on 93.8% of their chances.
On the defensive side of the ball, Senior Mamadou Soumahoro had 5 unassisted tackles and 3 assisted tackles with 2 sacks. Sophomore Brandon Palmer had 5 unassisted tackles and 2 sacks. Freshman A.M. Harris had 4 unassisted tackles and 2 assisted tackles. Junior Kevin Grier had 4 unassisted tackles and 1 assisted tackle. The Vikings' run defense currently sits at number 5 in the nation, with 62.9 yards allowed per game.
In a press conference after the game with the Hawk’s head coach Mike Turk, he conceded defeat by saying, “going down 27-10 at halftime was a kick in the gut,” and “the better team won today.”The defense put relentless pressure on the Hawk’s quarterback, forcing them to punt 6 times throughout the game. The constant threat of the defensive line was simply too great for the Hawk’s offense, which caused Berry to be able to secure this victory.
In a press conference with Head Coach Tony Kunczewski, senior Trey Ciresi, and senior Mamadou Soumahoro, they speak on how the team was able to secure the victory and what this means for the team.
“I think it’s obviously a huge victory for us as an institution, but I also think to a larger extent it’s huge for our conference, too,” said Kunczewski. “That’s something that really weighed heavily on us. We had the heartbreak of being 9-1 last year and shut out from a potential bid to the playoffs, and Centre was the same way this year. First and foremost, we want to win because of our institution but its also a great win for the SAA.”
Ciresi shared his opinions on how the offensive unit was able to have great success.
“I think they were trying to take away the pass game and we did a great job running the ball,” said Ciresi. “We took care of what we needed to up front and if they want to play that way, we’re pretty balanced and we can do both. I think that was the biggest part of the day, just having the ability to run the ball whenever we wanted to.”
Soumahoro spoke on how the defensive unit was able to remain so stingy throughout the game.
“We were physical up front,” said Soumahoro. “We were getting pumped up to be physical, to be the most physical team, and we just did that. We sack as a unit and we were just getting after it. Hopefully we’ll do the same next week.”
The Vikings will now go on to face the University of St. Thomas college in Minneapolis, Minnesota this Saturday, Nov. 25. According to D3football.com, the Tommies are ranked number 6 in the nation whereas the Vikings are ranked number 18. The Vikings will be tested in their second playoff game, as the competition will be the best the Vikings has seen this season.
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