VCSU linebacker Nicholas McBeain brings down a Hastings runner on Saturday.
Valley City State's fourth-quarter rally fell just short Saturday as the Viking football team lost a 35-32 contest to Hastings College.
VCSU trailed 35-12 entering the fourth quarter but scored the final 20 points to cut the deficit to 35-32 with 6:33 remaining. The Viking defense made a stop to get the ball back, but VCSU's offense was forced to punt and Hastings College ran out the clock to escape Valley City with a three-point victory.
The Vikings drop to 1-2 on the season with the non-conference loss. Hastings College, a member of the Great Plains Athletic Conference, improves to 2-0. Valley City State has a bye week before resuming play Sept. 24 with their conference opener at home against Waldorf University.
Hastings College took control early Saturday, receiving the opening kickoff and marching 74 yards in five plays for a 7-0 lead. The Vikings answered back late in the first quarter after Jacob Duilio punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to cap a 6-play, 68-yard drive. The extra point was blocked, leaving Hastings with a 7-6 lead.
The Broncos rolled off the next 21 points, scoring three touchdowns in the second quarter to build a 28-7 halftime lead. Receiver Jordan Johnson had three touchdowns in the first half to lead Hastings' charge.
Kurtis Walls found Josh Tovar for a 2-yard score midway through the third quarter, making it 28-12 after VCSU's extra point was again blocked. Hastings answered right back with a 67-yard drive and a 31-yard touchdown run for a 35-12 lead after the third quarter.
It was all Vikings in the fourth quarter, but not quite enough. After Ben Bruenjes returned a Hastings fumble to the 4-yard line, Jacob Duilio punched in a touchdown on the first play to make it 35-18 early in the fourth quarter. VCSU's two-point attempt fell incomplete.
VCSU linebacker Nicholas McBeain forced a fumble on Hastings' next possession, and Bruenjes again recovered to set the Viking offense up at the Hastings 48-yard line. On fourth-and-9 from the 22, Walls found DJ Edwards for a touchdown to cap the drive. Landon Arredondo added the extra point to make it 35-25 with 8:48 to go.
The Viking defense forced a three-and-out and the VCSU offense took advantage. Back-to-back long passes to Colby Lum – 40 yards and 48 yards – put the Vikings on the Hastings 4-yard line. Walls capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Marc Wagner, and Arredondo make the PAT to pull the Vikings within three at 35-32.
VCSU's defense again forced a three-and-out – getting a big third down tackle-for-loss from AJ Potter – to give the offense one more chance. Starting from their own 14-yard line, the Vikings were only able to pick up six yards before electing to punt on fourth-and-four with 2:50 remaining. Hastings College then converted a third-and-one to gain a first down, allowing the Broncos to run out the clock and seal the victory.
Valley City State gained 415 yards of total offense, including 304 through the air and 111 on the ground. Hastings College had 398 total yards, including 247 passing and 151 rushing. Hastings lost two fumbles, while the Vikings threw two interceptions.
Viking quarterback Kurtis Walls finished the game 22-for-41 for 304 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Colby Lum had seven catches for 188 yards. Josh Tovar added four catches for 24 yards and a touchdown. Jacob Duilio carried the ball 25 times for 72 yards and two scores.
McBeain led the offense with 11 total tackles. Jawuan Pugh and Sam Cooke each had seven tackles, and Harvey McMahon had six tackles and two sacks. Bruenjes recovered two fumbles and also blocked a punt.
Johnson finished the game for Hastings with five catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Jason Gaines passed for 207 yards and two scores, going 11-for-24. Tahj Willingham had 15 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Up next: Valley City State (1-2, 0-0 NSAA) opens conference play on Sept. 24 by hosting Waldorf University. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.