In an offense averaging 200 yards a game in the air, winning the trenches led Eagles coach Matt Perkins to take what was given to them by running the ball, averaging 4.4 yards per carry as a team and beating Oxford Hills at their own game.

“We like to pass, but tonight our kids were winning the line so we ran the ball,” said Perkins. “We had some kids out tonight wo we had some kids step up for us tonight.”

Kyle Houser led the attack, gaining 97 yards for the Eagles, including a a 26-yard gain to open the contest followed by a 1-yard score five plays later. Following an Oxford Hills punt, the Vikings got the ball back on an interception by Kayden White off a tipped pass from Desmond Leslie.

Unfortunately, Oxford Hills returned the favor by fumbling the ball back to the Eagles on a failed pitch just four plays later. After a defensive stop by Oxford Hills, the Vikings put together 14-play drive, highlighted by Ryland VanDecker’s 29 yards, only to stall on Windham’s 18-yard line.

Following a Windham (4-3) punt, Oxford Hills moved backwards before failing to execute on a punt late in the first half. Six plays later, including a pair of passes by Leslie, the quarterback found Garrett Peeples for a 5-yard score with 12-seconds remaining in the half.

“That really hurt us, instead of going into the half down 7-0, we were down 13,” Vikings coach Mark Soehren said.

Oxford Hills opened the second half with a 25-yard strike from quarterback Connor Truman to senior classmate John Bowen of the half’s first play. After several rushing gains, the Vikings were first and goal from the 10-yard line looking to get within a score. On third down, VanDecker rushed the ball down within the 2-yard before being stopped. On fourth and goal, the Vikings came out of a timeout with a play action fake with Truman sailing the ball just over the head of tight end Connor Bickford.

“I asked the team, what does it take to score from 2-yards out, and we felt that Windham was ready to stick their noses in the line of scrimmage,” Soehren said.

The Vikings’ defense did not quit, stopping the Eagles once again forcing a Windham punt giving the Vikings (3-4) field position within Windam’s territory. After Truman hit Bowen on another 23-yard pass, VanDecker drove them down to the one before Truman took it in the end zone for the score, cutting the lead to 13-6 late in the third quarter.

The Vikings defense began to wear down. Leslie connected on three more passes including a 7-yard score to Griffeth Hebert giving the Eagles a 21-6 following a successful 2-point conversion.

Windham put the game out of reach in the end when Nazari Henderson intercepted a Truman pass scampering in for the 25-yard score.

“Our kids played tough tonight here on senior night,” Soehren said.


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