Needing a sixth victory to qualify for the playoffs, Friday night’s game was a must win for Whitehall.
But they rallied for an impressive 37-30 victory over Battle Creek Harper Creek, which came into the game with only one loss.
Whitehall’s Coach Tony Sigmon was proud of how his team fought back and earned its way into the playoffs.
“Our kids have a lot of pride. Football is important to them,” Sigmon said. “They rose to the challenge.”
Whitehall trailed 23-14 at halftime. Both Viking touchdowns came courtesy of runs by Tylor Russell.
Harper Creek extended its lead on a touchdown following a blocked punt to make it 30-14 with 8:50 left in the third.
Whitehall opened its comeback with a 27-yard touchdown run by Russell, his third of the game, with 3:09 left in the third quarter. Jack MacArthur added a two-point conversion to cut the Vikings’ deficit to 30-22.
Vikings’ quarterback Casey Huizenga found the end zone on a one-yard run with 8:32 left in regulation and added a two-point conversion to tie the game 30-30.
Whitehall took the lead for the first time, 37-30, with just 2:15 to play on a seven-yard touchdown run by JoJo Dowdell.
Sigmon said the players were excited about the unlikely victory.
“They feel great,” he said. “This was a goal for us. They are more focused now than ever.”
Huizenga went 8-for-17 passing for 131 yards and ran for another 83 yards and a score for the Vikings. Dowdell was the leading rusher with 84 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
Russell finished with 70 yards rushing and 48 receiving with three touchdowns for Whitehall, while Justin Brown had 70 receiving yards.
The Vikings finished the regular season 6-3.