Madison, SD (NewsDakota.com)–The Viking football team had to fight off mistakes and outscore Dakota State Saturday for their second straight win.
Taylor Cino (Fr., St. Augistine, FL) rushed for 120 yards and Tommy Zinke (Sr., Rolla, ND) threw 235 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-31 Viking win, sending the Vikings to 2-1 this season, and dropping the Trojans to 0-4.
The game was not a clean effort by the Vikings, who allowed two blocked punts and a fumbled kickoff return to turn into 17 of the Trojans 31 points.
But big plays in the Viking passing game worked to overcome the mistakes. The Vikings scored on their initial drive with a 20-yard screen-and-run by Derek Elliot (Jr., Valley City, ND).
Dakota State then responded three possessions later with a blocked punt that led to a five-yard toss from Brandon Large (Sr., Mesa, AZ) to Stacey Berg (Sr., Winslow, AZ), tying the game. Elliot then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Trojans drove and added a 35-yard field goal by Nic Behrens for a 10-7 edge.
The Viking offense continued to sputter, held without a first down for four straight possessions, and Dakota State struck quickly with Large connecting with Berg for a 64-yard scoring pass, pushing the Trojan lead to 10 with 8:56 left of the second.
Responding, the Vikings picked up the pass with a no-huddle offense and Cino. Cino entered the game and touched the ball five times on the next Viking possession, capping the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run, plunging at the goal line to cut the Trojan lead to three.
The Viking defense then jarred a ball away from Berg on a first-down catch, setting the offense up at the Trojan 39. Another screen-and-run by Elliot gave the lead back to Valley City State.
Tommy Cortez (So., Haiku, HI) added a 29-yard field goal at the end of the half for a 24-17 Viking advantage.
Dakota State did not go away, and promptly blocked a second Zinke punt on the opening second-half Viking possession, taking over at the Viking 32. Large then hit Wes Dauz (Sr., Mesa, AZ) for a score, tying the game.
But Valley City State put it away behind the connection of Zinke to Ken Eliacin (Sr., Miami, FL), the reigning Association of Independent Institutions (AII) Male Athlete of the Week. After another Cortez field goal from 23 yards, a botched Trojan punt snap set the Vikings up at the Trojan 29. Zinke hit Eliacin two plays later from 24 yards for a score.
The connection hooked up again a drive later, with Zinke launching a beautifully-thrown ball over the middle, and Eliacin dashing in from 62-yards away, giving the Vikings a 41-24 lead with 11:38 left of the fourth.
The Trojans added a touchdown late in the game to cut the lead, but Valley City State ran out the final 1:40 for the win.
The Vikings face Jamestown College next week at Rollie Greeno Field and Taylor Stadium in Jamestown. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Pregame coverage will begin at 12:30 on Dakota Country Radio.
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