PARIS — Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren said the Vikings entered their matchup with Bonny Eagle expecting a four-quarter battle and anticipating the offensive and defensive lines to be the difference between winning and losing.

Oxford Hills’ offense made some timely big-time plays, but just as important to the Vikings’ 19-6 win over the Scots was their lines bouncing back from an ineffective start Saturday at Gouin Athletic Complex.

“Buckled down, and did what we’ve been taught to do,” Vikings defensive lineman John Hatcher said. “And we just did that for the rest of the game, and it helped us win.”

The showdown between 3-0 Class A football teams began with Bonny Eagle’s offensive line imposing its will on Oxford Hills’ defensive linemen as the Scots drove 70 yards on 16 plays while draining more than eight minutes off the clock.

Bonny Eagle earned five first downs and converted three third downs. The longest gain was 9 yards, and 10 of the 16 plays were runs by Zachariah Oja, who finished the drive with a 9-yard run that gave the Scots a 6-0 lead.

On Oxford Hills’ first offensive play, Isaiah Oufiero turned a pass from quarterback Eli Soehren into a 23-yard gain to Bonny Eagle’s 30-yard line, but the Vikings’ drive fizzled from there and they turned the ball over on downs.

The Oxford Hills defensive line held its own on Bonny Eagle’s second possession and forced a punt.

The Vikings offensive line did likewise, blocking on Soehren’s 23-yard run and his 27-yard pass to Teigan Pelletier that moved the ball to the Scots’ 19-yard line. Four plays later, Soehren tossed an 8-yard touchdown to Oufiero, tying the game at 6-6 with 7:51 remaining in the second quarter.

Soehren-to-Pelletier was the catalyst as Oxford Hills took control of the game. After Oxford Hills forced Bonny Eagle’s offense to go three-and-out, Soehren connected with Pelletier for gains of 9 and 32 yards, again advancing the Vikings into the red zone.

“It’s a big weapon, obviously,” Pelletier said of the long, over-the-defense passing plays. “But it just all started with the offensive line, went down to the quarterback and went down to the wide receivers.”

A few plays later, Oufiero caught a 5-yard TD pass, giving Oxford Hills a 13-6 lead with 2:39 left before halftime.

The Vikings had the ball first in the second half. A 24-yard pass to Matthew Doucette advanced the ball into Scots territory. The drive was on the verge of stalling there, but, on fourth-and-10 from the 28-yard line, Pelletier got past the defense enough for Soehren to zip the ball over three defenders, and Pelletier ran the rest of the distance to the end zone.

With 9:40 left in the third quarter, Oxford Hills led 19-6 and momentum was on its side.

But the Vikings couldn’t put the Scots away.

On the third play of Bonny Eagle’s next possession, quarterback Terrell Edwards’ pass was intercepted by Eli Soehren.

“It’s a slog, sometimes, trying to move the ball on them,” Scots coach Kevin Cooper said. “We, obviously, hurt ourselves with some turnovers, and you can’t do that against a team as good as Oxford Hills.”

The Vikings again drove deep into Scots territory, reaching the 11-yard line. They seem poised to all but put the game away. But a TD pass by Soehren to Cole Leonard was called back due to penalty, and Oxford Hills ended up turning the ball over on downs.

“We’re lucky to beat Bonny Eagle with a touchdown taken off the board,” Soehren said.

Vikings safety Dakota Grassi intercepted Edwards with 1:17 left in the third quarter, but on the next play Bonny Eagle’s Trevor Nevells intercepted Soehren.

Following another three-and-out by the Scots, the Vikings drove down to the Bonny Eagle 4, most of the yardage coming from a 14-yard reception by Lincoln Merrill and a 24-yard catch by Pelletier.

Once again, though, the Vikings didn’t finish the drive, as Bonny Eagle’s Owen Sperrey intercepted Soehren’s pass to the end zone with 7:38 remaining in the game.

“They battled the whole game. They were exhausted and still played hard,” Mark Soehren said of the Scots.

The Scots’ offense, which was without speedy weapon Aidan Walcott on Saturday, finally mounted a drive. Oja runs of 15 and 23 yards put the ball at the Oxford Hills 24, but Edwards’ fumble was recovered by Vikings lineman Brodi Rice with about five minutes to play.

“We knew it would be a four-quarter battle with them,” Mark Soehren said.

Oxford Hills picked up a couple of first downs and let the clock run out.

“It means a whole lot to win against this team,” Hatcher said, “because they’re a great team, we’re a great team, to win against them is amazing.”

Soehren completed 10 of 20 passes for 203 yards, three TDs and two interceptions. He also ran for a team-high 62 yards on eight carries. Pelletier caught five passes for 120 yards.

Oja finished with 96 yards on 23 carries.


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