Story by Andrew Pulverenti, MVC Sports Information director
The No. 2 Missouri Valley College Vikings capped off their 2012 regular season with a victory Saturday afternoon at Gregg-Mitchell Field over Central Methodist University 25-6. The win gives MVC its first undefeated regular season since 2006, and allows the Vikings to be out-right Heart of America Conference champions. The Vikings have now won the conference title for the second straight year, third time under Head Coach Paul Troth, and the 12th time in program history.
Despite the big win for MVC, Central Methodist did not go down without a fight. Neither team could move the ball on the other through the first quarter, with the first real threat at points coming from CMU, but the Eagles would miss a 33-yard field goal attempt.
The Vikings took the ball after the missed attempt, and drove on CMU down to their 16-yard line, but Sophomore Quarterback Bruce Reyes (Beaumont, Texas) threw an interception at the one-yard line, ending MVC’s best drive of the first half. The Vikings would get on the board first midway through the second quarter on a big play by the defense. Senior Linebacker Mike Hall (Foristell, Mo.) forced a CMU fumble near midfield, which was recovered by Junior Defensive Back Tyler Davis (St. Louis, Mo.). Davis was able to weave his way through traffic and return the fumble 51-yards for a touchdown, giving MVC a 7-0 lead.
Central Methodist answered late in the second quarter with a 10-play drive that resulted in a 38-yard field goal, cutting the MVC lead to 7-3. The CMU defense would force a quick three-and-out, and a wind-aided punt by Sophomore Punter Jason Mayden (Carrollton, Mo.) resulted in CMU taking over at the MVC 37-yard line with only seconds remaining. The Eagles moved 20-yards on their first play, and connected on a 34-yard field goal, making it just a 7-6 MVC lead heading into halftime.
The Vikings took the first drive of the second half, and moved on CMU to the Eagles’ 30-yard line, but Senior Running Back
LaNorris Dukes fumbled, which was recovered by CMU.
The Eagles failed to move the ball after the turnover, and a punt would pin MVC back on its 11-yardline midway through the third quarter. The Vikings put together the most impressive drive to that point, taking control of the game, going 89-yards in 10-plays. The Vikings used seven running plays on the drive, and capped it off with a Senior Running Back Zavier Steward one-yard touchdown run to give MVC a 14-6 lead with four minutes left in the third quarter.
The MVC defense responded after the touchdown, getting a three-and-out on CMU’s ensuing drive, but a 71-yard punt pinned MVC back on its own 20-yard line.
For the second drive in a row, the Vikings would move the ball on the Eagles putting together an eight-play 80-yard drive, most of which came on a 58-yard pass reception for Freshman Wide Receiver Mikquel Johnson (St. Louis, Mo.). The drive was finished by a one-yard Reyes touchdown run. The Vikings got a two-point conversion thanks to a Junior Wide Receiver Travis Thornton (Kentwood, La.) to Sophomore Wide Receiver Jonathan Bird III (Farmington, Mo.) pass and catch, giving MVC a 22-6 lead just minutes into the fourth quarter.
MVC scored the final points in the game on its last meaningful drive thanks to a 46-yard Senior Kicker Fabian Miramontes (Merced, Calif.) field goal, giving MVC the 25-6 victory.
Leading the way for MVC was Reyes who finished 13 of 20 passing for 202 yards with one interception and a rushing touchdown. On the ground, the Vikings were led by Steward who gained 50-yards on 13-carries with a touchdown. Receiving wise the Vikings were led by Johnson who caught a game-high six passes for 91-yards.
Defensively the Vikings limited CMU to only 197-yards of total offense, and just 20-yards through the air. This is the fourth time this year the MVC defense has allowed less than 200-yards to the opponent, including the Culver-Stockton College, Graceland University, and Peru State College wins.
The Vikings were led in tackles by Senior Defensive Back LaQuentin Black (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and Sophomore Defensive Lineman Ty Phillips (East St. Louis, Ill.) with eight tackles apiece. Phillips also ended the game with a game-high two sacks, and three tackles for loss resulting in 12-yards lost for CMU. Also with sacks in the game were Hall with one, and Sophmore Linebacker Dominique McDonald (Houston, Texas) and Junior Defensive Lineman Zach Thomas (Sweet Springs, Mo.) both had half a sack. In all the Viking defense had 11-tackles for loss resulting in 38 lost yards for CMU. The lone turnover generated by MVC was the fumble return for a touchdown by Davis.
Miramontes was third in the country in total points scored heading into the game, and added five more points to his total, finishing with 79 points in the regular season.
The win gives MVC a perfect regular season, with a 10-0 overall record and 9-0 mark in the HAAC. This is the second undefeated regular season for the Vikings under Head Coach Troth, their first back in 2006 in which the Vikings advanced to the National semifinals. CMU ends their 2012 campaign at 2-8 overall and 2-7 in conference play.
The Vikings will wait and learn where they sit in the bracket of the NAIA Championship Series. The game’s location and MVC’s opponent will be announced Sunday afternoon, and the opening round is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17. Log on to www.moval.edu/athletics for more information on the NAIA Championship Series.