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home : sports : sports
November 15, 2019

9/26/2019 4:26:00 PM
Greyhounds race past Vikings on their homecoming

Homecoming is always a special time for the football players, and although the Vikings lost this chapter in their homecoming history, the memories will still last for the players and coaches.

The Friday, September 20th game had an unseasonably sticky feel to it with the humidity in the air. It felt more like a season opener in late August rather than a homecoming affair.

The Vikings started out just as hot as the weather, as they’ve been wont to do this year.

They pieced together a nice drive, using their potent rushing attack before burning the Greyhounds on a playaction pass. Quarterback Koby Chouinard connected with tight end Gavyn Jensen-Schneider for a 24-yard touchdown pass that gave the Vikings the early lead. They went for the two point conversion, and were successful, giving them a quick 8-0 lead.

On the ensuing drive, the North Branch defense did their part, standing up to Duluth East’s balanced passing attack, aided in part by a gross overthrow by East’s Caden Edwards to a wide open receiver.

Unfortunately, on the ensuing punt, senior Danny Hovland tried to field the ball on a bounce, and it clanked off his hands and East recovered, getting great field position.

They made good on the drive, with Edwards pushing his way in from just one yard out to score. The Greyhounds passed for a two point conversion, tying the game at 8-8.

North Branch’s offense began a drive that was looking promising, but a missed handoff between Chouinard and Josh Hindt led to a fumble that East recovered again, although this one was deeper into East’s territory.

Edwards made sure they didn’t stay back there long, though, as he connected with wide receiver Dekarri Davis for a long pass down the right sideline that Davis turned into an even bigger gain before getting forced out of bounds.

The Vikings defense got the Greyhounds to third and 20 after an East penalty, but they were unable to keep the receivers in front of them on the down, and East got a first down which they later converted to a touchdown, going up 15-8 after the extra point was good.

The Vikings, who have a tough time playing from behind with their style as it is, suffered a big loss when Chouinard, their quarterback, went out with an injury midway through the second quarter. Sophomore Andrew Thauwald took over for Chouinard, but it made the Vikings a bit more one-dimensional.

East took advantage of that, scoring on their first drive of the second half, with Edwards taking another touchdown in, this one from four yards out. With the extra point splitting the uprights, the lead stretch to 22-8 in favor of East.

At the start of the fourth quarter, North Branch made one last ditch effort to stay within striking distance of the Greyhounds. They put together a quality drive that ended with a six yard score from Derek Witte. Witte also finished off the two point conversion, and suddenly, the Vikings were within six points at 22-16.

But, East’s offense was just a bit too much down the stretch. Derek Daniels and Elijah Leonard had back-to-back big runs on the next drive, and Edwards scored another rushing touchdown just over a minute after the Vikings had pulled within one score.

With just under two minutes left in the game, after North Branch had two empty possessions, East scored an insurance touchdown, with Edwards hooking up with Cullen McMahon for a nine-yard score.

The extra point made it 36-16 in favor of East, and it would stay that way as a final.

The 1-3 Vikings will travel to Cloquet this week to take on the Lumberjacks, who are 3-1. Their only common opponent thus far is Hermantown, and the Hawks beat both teams by a similar score, so it will be an interesting showdown between two teams who just two years ago were playing in the section championship game.

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