VCSU's Jacob Duilio stiff arms a Jamestown defender Thursday night. (Morgan Nalley/VCSU)
Marc Wagner took a chance, and it paid off in a big way Thursday night for the Vikings.
The VCSU sophomore successfully executed a fake punt deep in Viking territory, extending a key drive late in the fourth quarter Thursday as the Vikings held on to defeat rival University of Jamestown by a score of 15-10 at VCSU's Shelly Ellig Field.
In front of a standing-room only crowd, the Vikings built a 15-3 lead early in the second half and then came up with key defensive stops down the stretch to win the season opener and retain the Paint Bucket. Valley City State improves to 1-0 this season while Jamestown drops to 0-1.
It is VCSU's fifth straight win over Jamestown and was the 117th meeting all-time between the two programs. VCSU now leads the all-time series 61-51-5, and leads the Paint Bucket Series 38-30.
Jacob Duilio rushed for 138 yards and VCSU's only touchdown, and linebacker Nicholas McBeain recorded 28 tackles to lead the Viking defense.
The Vikings played exceptionally clean football in the season opener as they did not commit a turnover and only had four penalties. Three first-half turnovers by the Jimmies led to eight points for the Vikings, who built an 8-3 lead at halftime.
A snap over the head of Jamestown punter Grand Linde went out the back of the end zone and put the Vikings up 2-0 just six minutes into the game. VCSU took over the kickoff at their own 48-yard line and marched down to the Jamestown 5-yard line, where freshman kicker Landon Arredondo nailed a 22-yard field goal for a 5-0 lead.
A Jimmie fumble early in the second quarter led to another Arredondo field goal – this one from 34-yards out – and an 8-0 lead. Jamestown got on the board with 21 seconds left in the half after Linde capped off a 59-yard drive with a 38-yard field goal.
The Vikings took the second-half kickoff and marched 67 yards down the field for the first touchdown of the game and a 15-3 lead. Duilio carried the ball five times for 49 yards on the drive, including the drive-capping 23-yard touchdown.
Jamestown's next two drives both stalled out at the VCSU 10-yard line after Viking defensive stops on fourth down. The Jimmies found the end zone for the first time on their third drive of the second half. A 27-yard punt return by Branden Edwards set the Jimmies up at the Vikings' 39-yard line, and nine plays later Kendrick Sullivan punched in a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 1. The extra point by Grant Linde cut the Viking lead to 15-10 with 5:35 remaining in the game.
VCSU's next drive appeared to be a three-and-out, which would have give Jamestown the ball with plenty of time on the clock, but Wagner had different ideas. Wagner's fake punt run on fourth-and-6 from the Vikings' 28-yard line came with about 4:35 remaining and allowed the Vikings to milk another 3:30 off the clock before punting it back to the Jimmies with 1:04 remaining.
Jamestown's last-gasp drive ran out of time after Ty Myron was tackled inbounds at the Jamestown 37-yard line, ending the game with a 15-10 Viking victory.
Jamestown out-gained the Vikings in total offensive yards, 277 to 259. The Jimmies had 203 yards on the ground and 74 through the air. VCSU racked up 177 yards on the ground and 82 through the air. Both teams had 17 first downs.
Duilio's 138 yards on 29 carries led all rushers in the game. Viking quarterback Kurtis Walls completed 15 of 27 passes for 82 yards and no interceptions. DJ Edwards had five catches for 33 yards, and Tayler Lentz had four catches for 17 yards.
Defensively, McBeain was everywhere for the Vikings and recorded eight solo tackles and 19 assisted tackles. AJ Potter and Andre Peppers both finished with 10 total tackles. Sam Cooke forced and recovered a fumble, and freshman Travon Smith had an interception.
Jamestown's offense was paced by running back Kendrick Sullivan and his 115 yards on the ground. Quarterback Dylan Klatt gained 54 yards on the ground and went 8 of 23 passing for 74 yards and one interception. Caleb Ellingson led the Jimmie defense with 13 tackles.
Up next: Valley City State (1-0) travels to Dickinson State on Saturday, Sept. 3, for a non-conference game. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. MT/3 p.m. CT. University of Jamestown (0-1) hosts Concordia-Moorhead on Sept. 3 at 1 p.m.