Valley City State University scored 21 first-half points and forced five turnovers Saturday as the Viking football team defeated Mayville State, 21-15.
The Vikings scored three touchdowns in the first 22 minutes of play to build a 21-0 lead at Mayville. The Comets would claw their way back into the game late, but VCSU's Andre Peppers intercepted a pass with 1:05 remaining to seal the victory.
The win moves VCSU to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the North Star Athletic Association. It is also the 116th career win for head coach Dennis McCulloch, tying him with Jim Dew for the most wins in program history.
The Vikings jumped out to an early lead Saturday, scoring two touchdowns in an 83-second span in the first quarter. On VCSU's second drive of the game Jacob Duilio rumbled 25 yards for a touchdown run, capping a 5-play, 53-yard drive and putting the Vikings up 7-0. On Mayville's ensuing drive – just three plays later – Viking defensive back Travon Smith intercepted Mayville State quarterback Andrew Blake and ran it back 60 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
VCSU's final score was also set up by a turnover. After Jawuan Pugh forced and recovered a fumble in the second quarter, the Viking offense marched 66 yards to the end zone and capped the drive with a 1-yard run from Josh Bender. Harrison Hammel added the extra point and the Vikings found themselves up 21-0 with 4 minutes left in the first half.
Mayville State did not go quietly though as the Comet offense began to move the ball in the second half. An 8-play, 89-yard drive led to Mayville's first touchdown of the day with 9:28 left in the third quarter. A successful 2-point conversion made it 21-8. On Mayville's next drive the Comets drove down to the goal line before Pugh intercepted Blake in the end zone for a touchback.
The Vikings responded with a long drive of their own, but a 25-yard field goal attempt was wide left leaving the score at 21-8. The Comets scored their final touchdown with 5:50 to go. A 6-yard touchdown run by Dondrei Hubbard completed a 14-play, 63-yard drive and cut the Viking lead to 21-15.
The Comet offense had a chance in the final minutes, but Peppers intercepted Andrew Blake at the Mayville State 43-yard line with 1:05 remaining, allowing the Vikings to take three kneel-downs and run out the clock.
Valley City State gained 176 yards on the ground and 165 yards passing. Mayville State out-gained VCSU in total yards: 407-341. The Comets had 125 yards rushing and 282 yards passing.
VCSU's defense forced five turnovers in the game, including four interceptions by Pugh, Peppers, Smith and Austin Erickson. Jesus Munoz and Nicholas McBeain each had 13 tackles in the victory. Pugh finished with nine tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and half a sack. Dominic Kruse had 10 tackles, and Harvey McMahon tallied nine tackles and half a sack.
Louis Quinones finished with 75 rushing yards on 12 carries for VCSU. Jacob Duilio had 70 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
Quarterback Kurtis Walls completed 15 out of 26 passes for 165 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Joshua Tovar had five catches for 78 yards, and Colby Lum finished with 35 yards receiving on three receptions.
Up next: Valley City State (3-3, 2-1 NSAA) goes on the road to No. 19-ranked Dakota State (5-1, 2-0 NSAA) on Saturday, Oct. 15. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. in Madison, S.D.