Vikings upset QAC in first game, 23-22

Lineman Caleb Scott, left, and Quarterback Jyquan Farrare left the field Saturday to the cheers of their fans.

Lineman Caleb Scott, left, and Quarterback Jyquan Farrare left the field Saturday to the cheers of their fans.

CAMBRIDGE — In an usual, two-part game featuring a new head coach, thunder, lightning and big plays, the Cambridge-South Dorchester High School Vikings (1A) opened their 2018 football season with a 23-22 win over the Queen Anne’s County Lions (2A).

The issue wasn’t decided until the final seconds, when a Lions receiver was tackled inbounds on a desperation play as the clock ticked down to zero. It was a tension- and excitement-filled nailbiter of a game, with both well coached teams playing good football.

It was also Head Coach Gaven Parker’s first regular-season game is charge, after spending five years on the sidelines as an offensive coach. While the players knocked each other around the field, Coach Parker had to roll with the punches himself.

The game started at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, with the crowd keeping an eye on the sky after hearing weather reports indicating a good chance of lightning. Those forecasts were right on the money, as officials called lightning delays twice before halftime, clearing out the stadium for half an hour each time.

The second delay occurred as halftime began, with the score 16-8 in favor of the Vikings. Game officials and coaches decided to resume play at 4 p.m. on Saturday, picking up at the beginning of the third quarter.

When play had ended on Friday, momentum was in the Vikings’ favor, with the Lions maybe as surprised as many fans were at the tenacious play of the home team. Not to say that the visitors would underestimate an opponent, but facing a young team – lots of sophomores on the roster – and a new head coach, the Lions were favored to win.

Last year, QAC finished with a record of 7-3, while C-SD ended the season 6-5.

“I think we would have had an edge if we could have finished the game yesterday,” Coach Parker said after the game on Saturday. He might have been right about that – the Lions showed up Saturday ready to play like the winning program they are.

They faced a young, but determined Vikings squad led by players including Khalik Beasley, who was in no mood to lose a game.

“He played on a sprained ankle and never wanted to come out,” Coach Jake Coleman said. “Legendary performance.”

Fellow Coach Eric Otey agreed, saying, “He could hardly plant on it before the game. He told Coach Coleman and I that he would tell us when he wanted to come out.”

Action began on Friday with a long, though scoreless, drive by the Vikings. Fans got a hint of the excitement to come, though, on a wild play when C-SD running back Camren Lake lost the handle on the ball on second-and-10 from the QAC 40. The pigskin flipped forward, and spun about five yards in the air before being grabbed by Jay’Zon Roberts, who carried it to the 20 for a Vikings first down.

Game on, people.

It was three plays and a punt after that for the visitors, followed by a Vikings scoring drive capped by a Jyquan Farrare pass to Dario Belizaire for the first touchdown of the contest, with 3:02 left in the opening period. The Lions answered with a SyRus McGowan pass to Ryan Muller in the closing seconds of the quarter. A two-point conversion tied it at 8-all.

In the first possession of the second quarter, it was Beasley’s time to shine, as the tough junior running back took a handoff from the QAC 1 and plunged across the goal line for a score. But wait, there’s more – the extra kick was bobbled.

That’s ok, holder Logan Middleton picked it up, scrambled, and tossed it to an alert Jeremy Taylor, who took it into the end zone for a two-point conversion.

And that was it for Friday.

On Saturday, the Lions got the ball first, and marched downfield for a score, with Hassan Biggus doing the honors for the TD and the 2-pointer. That made it 16-all and the tension began to ratchet up in the stands.

C-SD’s next drive ended with a punt, and QAC followed with a long and strong march. They had it on the Vikes’ 18, when TaRoy Wilson fumbled and the ball was recovered by Camren Lake.

The Vikings then did what good teams know they have to do – take advantage of opponents’ mistakes. Starting their drive on their own 23, they went downfield to score on a run by Dario Belizaire. A kick by Drew Warfield made it 23-16.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

On the next possession, the Lions’ Ryan Muller tore off a couple of long runs, and the ball was at the Vikings’ 12-yard line. A play, a time out, a play, a time out – and Biggus took a handoff at the 1, scoring and bringing the tally to 23-22.

A successful kick would have tied the score. But the Lions came to win, and formed up for a 2-point try. When Donovan Cruz was stopped in a pile-up at the goal line, the crowd roared and the Vikes still had a 1-point lead.

With less than four minutes on the clock, all the home team had to do was hold on to the ball and eat up the clock. The Vikings moved it downfield to the QAC nine, and turned over on downs with less than a minute remaining.

The Lions’ hopes came down to the last play, from their own 28. It would be either a touchdown or a loss, 4 seconds left, no time for a kick. SyRun McGowan completed a pass to Noah Evans, who ran diagonally across the field, into Vikings’ territory, where he was tackled by Khalik Beasley at the C-SD 36, with no time on left on the clock.

On Friday, the Vikings will take on Woodbridge. C-SD lost their match-up against the Delaware school last year, falling 37-13 in the season opener. Game time Friday will be 7 p.m.

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