|Valley City State (N.D.) (6-4)||0||0||3||14||17|
|Southeastern (Fla.) (7-2 (5-0))||3||7||3||0||13|
|#26 Jacob Duilio - 39||Rushing
||#1 Chris Bryant - 57|
|#14 Kurtis Walls - 263||Passing
||#7 Jonathan Pearce - 177|
|#11 Jake Peterson - 67||Receiving
||#5 Michael Wheary - 115|
LAKELAND, FLA. – Valley City State football's 17 seniors went out with a bang Thursday night.
The Vikings stunned the No. 14-ranked team in the country, scoring the final 17 points as VCSU defeated Southeastern University (Fla.) on its home field: 17-13.
Playing the final game of their careers, the Vikings 17 seniors led the way as VCSU handed Southeastern just its second loss of the season. VCSU trailed 13-0 late in the third quarter but put points on the board with a field goal from Harrison Hammel and then scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to take a 17-13 lead.
VCSU's defense made crucial stops in the final minutes, including the game-clinching interception in the end zone by senior Beau Winchester.
Valley City State ends the season with a 6-4 overall record. Southeastern is now 6-2 overall.
Southeastern University used a stifling defense to build a 10-0 lead at halftime and led 13-0 midway through the third quarter. Following Southeastern's final field goal, the Viking defense stepped up and did not allow a first down on the Fire's next three drives – which helped set up VCSU's three scoring drives.
VCSU's rushing offense was held down all game as the Vikings gained just 31 yards on 33 attempts, but the passing offense began to find some traction in the second half. After Hammel capped a drive with a 31-yard field goal to put VCSU on the board late in the third quarter, senior quarterback Kurtis Walls engineered back-to-back touchdown drives to put VCSU ahead 17-13. The first drive went for 62 yards and was capped with an 11-yard pass to Colby Lum. The second Viking touchdown drive was 84 yards and finished with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Tovar.
After Tovar's touchdown put VCSU ahead, the Viking defense ended Southeastern's final three drives deep in Viking territory. VCSU stopped the Fire on a fourth-and-10 from the Viking 14-yard line; the second drive ended when Harvey McMahon recovered a fumble at the VCSU 15-yard line; and the final drive ended with Winchester's game-clinching interception in the end zone.
The Fire shot themselves in the foot several times throughout the night, turning the ball over four times and committing 15 penalties for 142 yards. The Vikings were assessed 12 penalties for 101 yards, but only had one turnover in the game.
VCSU senior linebacker Nicholas McBeain amassed a sack and 24 tackles in the victory, breaking the VCSU single-season tackle record in the process. His 188 tackles this season breaks the old mark of 167 set by Ivan Thorpe in 1980. McBeain finishes his Viking career as the all-time tackling leader with 446 career tackles – 183 solo and 263 assisted.
The top five Viking tacklers in Thursday's victory were all seniors. Ben Bruenjes posted 11 tackles and a sack; Andre Peppers had eight tackles and broke up a pass; Harvey McMahon had six tackles, 1.5 for loss, and recovered a fumble; and Jawuan Pugh added six tackles as well.
Walls – the all-time leading passer in Viking history – finished his career with a 23-for-43 night, passing for 263 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Senior Colby Lum caught five passes for 61 yards and a score, and senior Joshua Tovar had three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown. Jake Peterson added five catches for 67 yards, including a big 39-yard grab that set up Lum's touchdown.
Senior running back Jacob Duilio gained 39 yards on 22 carries.
Thursday's victory was the second Top 25 win this season for VCSU. The Vikings defeated then No. 19 Dakota State by a score of 41-22 on Oct. 15.
Southeastern would have all but locked up a spot in the NAIA playoffs with a victory Thursday, but now the Fire must wait and see if they will remain ranked high enough in the final poll to earn a spot in the 16-team field.