By Andrew Johnson
The Vikings lost a double overtime thriller 34-31 at Montague last week for its first loss of the year, then started a little slow on Friday, holding a slim two-point lead over Oakridge at halftime.
But Whitehall woke up after halftime, exploding for 20 points in the third quarter and rolling to a 32-18 victory over the Eagles on their home field.
“It’s huge,” said Vikings head coach Tony Sigmon about his 5-1 team’s response to last week’s disappointing loss. “It now gives us momentum going into the playoffs next week. I’m very proud of how they handled adversity and transitioned from last week.”
In the first quarter, Bryce Kartes hit 25-yard field goal for Oakridge and Alec Pruett scored a nine-yard TD run for Whitehall, and the Vikings led 6-3 after one quarter.
In the second quarter, Jacob Danicek scored on a one-yard run to give Oakridge a 10-6 edge, before a nine-yard touchdown run by Pruett gave Whitehall a 12-10 halftime lead.
After halftime, the Vikings showed their ability to pull away.
On the first possession of the third quarter, Whitehall’s Alec Pruett punched in a 19-yard touchdown run to extend the Viking lead to 18-10 with 7:42 remaining.
After a quick Eagle three-and-out, quarterback Andrew Durbin found Nate Bolley for a 23-yard touchdown pass, giving the Vikings a 25-10 advantage with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
Whitehall’s Jacob Haynes completed the eruption on the nest Oakridge possession, when he intercepted a pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Danicek punched in a one-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion to make the score 32-18 with 7:40 remaining.
Whitehall was led by Durbin, who rushed for 99 yards on 15 carries while also completing three passes for 103 yards, including a touchdown.
Durbin, a senior, was particularly happy, because he broke his ankle last season against Oakridge and missed the rest of the campaign.
“It’s a big one for me,” Durbin said about beating Oakridge for the first time in his career. “It’s amazing. This was a big one mentally after breaking my ankle last year. It’s awesome to come here and win.”
Pruett totaled 78 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries.
“They blocked great,” said Pruett about his offensive line’s performance. “They were amazing. We had some adjustments to make here and there, but like usual when we asked them to perform, they did.”
Oakridge was led by Corey Vanderputte, who totaled 60 yards on 13 carries.
“It’s the second season,” said Oakridge head coach Cary Harger, whose 4-2 team will now prepare for next week’s playoff opener. “We have to learn from our mistakes and can’t repeat those mistakes. We have to come with a new urgency and be ready for the postseason.”