|10/11/2019 11:20:00 AM|
North Branch upheaves Hibbing 40-19 for second win of the season
North Branch 40, Hibbing 19
Hibbing has been a great remedy for ailing teams this year, and it was no different for a North Branch team that had lost three games in a row coming into the contest.
The game took place on Friday, October 4 at Cheever Field in Hibbing. The Bluejackets had an 0-4 record coming in, and had been thoroughly dominated in each contest.
North Branch’s first drive looked like it might lead to points when quarterback Koby Chouinard connected with favorite target Gavyn Jensen-Schneider on a 36 yard pass, but the drive fell short as the Vikings couldn’t convert on fourth down.
The North Branch defense held, and were able to flip the field, with the Vikings taking over from midfield instead of their own eight yard line like the first drive.
The offense moved the ball a short way down the field before Josh Hindt punched in North Branch’s first score of the game from five yards out. It made the game 6-0 after NB failed on their two point conversion attempt.
Following the score, though, Hibbing did something they hadn’t done all year: answer the ball. The Bluejackets put together a drive of their own and scored on an eight yard touchdown pass to even the tally at 6-6 when they also missed their two point conversion.
That score was early in the second quarter, and it all went down hill for the Bluejackets after that. Although the teams traded a couple of empty possessions over the next few drives, NB really got cooking late in the second half. With under five minutes left in the second quarter, Chouinard called his own number, rushing for a 21 yard touchdown to stretch the lead to 12-6.
On Hibbing’s next possession, North Branch’s defense forced a quick stop, getting the Vikings the ball back, and they made good on opportunity, scoring a 35 yard rushing touchdown from Austin Sonnek with two minutes left in the half. The lead ballooned to 18-6.
Hibbing wanted to score before halftime, but it ended up backfiring on them, as North Branch got another possession, and Chouinard was deft through the air, finished another drive with a 25 yard touchdown strike to Hindt with under a minute left. Chouinard converted the two point conversion to put NB up 26-6.
In a span of five minutes, the game went from being tied to on the verge of a blowout in favor of the Vikings.
Hibbing did score on their first possession of the second half, trimming the lead to 26-12, but North Branch eventually answered back with an 11-yard rushing score from senior Danny Hoveland.
Hibbing did not want to go quietly, using a quick strike that mostly has not been there for them this year to score another touchdown. The got a 55 yard rushing touchdown and an extra point to get the lead back down to two scores before the fourth quarter started. But, again, the NB offense was up to the task.
Chouinard showed off his passing chops again, this time connecting for a 15-yard score with Hindt, his third touchdown of the game and second receiving. Chouinard ran for another two point conversion, inflating the lead to 40-19.
North Branch was on the door step again at the end of the game, but ended up fumbling on Hibbing’s three yard line with under one minute left in the game, luckily not affecting the outcome in any way.
The win moved the Vikings to 2-4 on the season, with Duluth Denfeld on tap. They’ll host the Hunters on Friday, October 11. Denfeld is 0-6 on the year and is being outscored by an average of 37 points per game this year. They’ve average 3.6 points per game, with three shutouts, while giving up 40.6 points per game, including 30-plus in five of their six games.
If the Vikings win, they will ensure themselves at least one home playoff game in the section 7AAAA postseason bracket.