A pivotal play in the fourth quarter set the stage for senior night success in Hays, as the North Wilkes Vikings came from behind to beat Alleghany 56-40.
The Vikings were trailing the Trojans by five points early in the final frame, and faced fourth-and-ten from the Alleghany 13 when Head Coach Monty Chipman called timeout.
“Luckily, I still had a play I could pull out in that situation,” smiled Chipman afterwards.
The play worked, springing Adam Winebarger for an easy scoring reception from quarterback Cole Chipman and a two-point advantage at 35-33.
That lead wouldn’t last the rest of the way — both teams exhibited quick-strike potential in a game that saw the schools combine for 106 points — but it kept the home team from squandering a deep foray into Trojans’ territory and proved to be the first of four fourth quarter touchdowns.
“All game long we were just trying to run some crossing routes against them to produce some match-ups in the secondary we thought we could take advantage of,” said Monty Chipman, whose team improved to 6-4 overall and 3-3 with the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference victory. “They were running man coverage against the pass, so the crossing routes were designed to get someone like Adam against a smaller defensive back who would have trouble covering him. But on that play, something happened and Adam ended up being wide open.”
The Vikings needed the offensive explosion (North’s previous season high was 52 points in a non-conference win against West Caldwell), because defensively the Trojans proved to be a handful.
Alleghany runs a triple-option look — Spencer Murphy on the dive, Jared Foley with the keeper from the quarterback position or Dustin Rector around the edge — and North’s inability to stop that three-headed monster meant Chipman’s squad spent a lot of time Friday playing catch-up.
“It’s just assignment football,” said Chipman. “People have to play their assignment. We had some plays where we didn’t follow our responsibility and so we struggled as a whole.
“But in the fourth, we made some adjustments and settled down a little on that side of the ball.”
Once Winebarger’s grab put the Vikings up two points, Alleghany answered with a big play on a keeper from Foley, who burst through the middle for a 47-yard score.
That would prove to be the last touchdown from the visitors, however, while the home team was just getting started.
First, North Wilkes claimed the lead for good on a run up the gut from bruising fullback Ben Winters. Winebarger contributed on that drive, too, with an 18-yard end-around that put the Vikings in the red zone.
The Vikings forced a three-and-out on the next Trojans’ possession, as Alleghany elected to punt and let its defense try and get the ball back down while down 42-40.
But the Vikings’ offense was able to build on the momentum created by the defense. Six plays later Dylan Church, who led the Vikings with 181 yards on the ground, strolled in on the right side from seven yards away for the 49-40 advantage.
Another three-and-out from Alleghany was followed by another touchdown run from Church — this time from 30 yards away — and a desperation heave from Foley was picked off by Vikings’ defensive back Michael Bell to extinguish Alleghany’s last chance at a miracle with just under a minute left to play.
The win came on senior night at Raner Wiles Stadium, as Chipman and the Vikings’ faithful said goodbye to a strong 17-man class that includes Cole Chipman, Church and Winebarger, and defensive mainstays like linemen Houston Faw and Cole Edwards.
“These kids have had my back for four years,” said Monty Chipman as his seniors stood for family and team photos at midfield, on a giant “N” on the 50-yard line decorated this night with the numbers of a class that has enjoyed three winning varsity campaigns in the past four seasons.
“We got down there for a couple of weeks, but we rallied last Friday against Starmount (a 31-28 overtime victory in Boonville), and I think last week and tonight we’re seeing that these kids don’t have any quit in them. I’m very proud of this group.”
Cole Chipman had a big night Friday, throwing for four scores — three to Winebarger — and 235 yards. Winebarger finished with four catches for 143 yards. Two seniors in the secondary snagged interceptions, including Bell’s fourth quarter pick. Seth Johnson picked off a two-point try from Foley after an Alleghany touchdown in the first quarter.
Alleghany’s ground game was also potent. Rector had a game-high 188 yards and four scores, including a 60-yard scamper for six. Murphy had 88 yards and a 55-yard touchdown on the night.
The Trojans fell to 3-7 and 2-4 in league play. Alleghany will end its regular season with a home game this week against Elkin.
North Wilkes finishes up the MVAC slate by traveling to county rival West Wilkes in Millers Creek. The Blackhawks are winless in conference play this season. The Vikings, currently tied with East Wilkes for fourth place in the league standings and can claim fourth outright with a win against the Hawks (North beat the Cardinals earlier this fall).