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Championship eludes Vikings in overtime, 30-24

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The Charlo Vikings snapped a 40-year dry spell by hosting the Class C 8-man State Football Championships Saturday afternoon at Halgren Field.

Coming into the game, the visiting Ennis Mustangs were the heavy favorites to take their second state title in four years.

The Vikings faced the daunting challenge of stopping a Mustangs’ offense that has shown it can march down a field and score at will.

“Ennis is a fast and physical team,” Vikings head coach Mike Krahn said. “They are a team who has scored a lot of points and has given up very few.”

The playoffs saw the Mustangs, a team who scored no less than 54 points per game in the regular season, outscore their three opponents 168 to 20.

Both Vikings and Mustangs defenses dominated the first half of play. The lone score of the first half came on a Mustangs 27- yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

The Mustangs took the 6-0 lead into the locker room at the half, where Coach Krahn and staff instructed the team with the necessary adjustments to their game plan. Before the Vikings made their way back to the battlefield, Coach Krahn pointed to the words scrawled in black on the dry erase board and read it aloud, “Leave it on the field.”

Early in the third quarter Zane Hafliger put a block on a Mustangs defender that broke Landers Smith free to sprint down the sidelines 52 yards to tie up the game.

With 2:30 to go in the third quarter, Smith gave the Vikings the first lead of the game, 12-6, when he ran in a touchdown from 19 yards out.

Ennis quickly answered back with a 46-yard touchdown strike knotting the game at 12-12.

The Mustangs on a short rushing touchdown took the lead early in the fourth quarter. However, the lead was short lived as Smith answered the rushing touchdown with his own 19-yard run to knot the game back up at 18-18.

Ennis took their final lead in regulation play on a 46- yard pass play.

Down 24-18 with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game, Smith and the Vikings battled down the field, tying the game on a 15-yard pass play with 39 ticks left on the clock. On the ensuing 2-point conversion, Smith ran it up the middle just to be stopped by the Mustangs’ defense a few feet shy of the goal line, sending the game into overtime.

The Vikings won the coin toss and they elected to have the Mustangs have the first opportunity to score.

After a few misfires on offense, the Mustangs’ were facing a third-and-nine when quarterback Mustang Tanner Wood found his brother Corbin Wood in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. A missed two-point conversion left the door open for the Vikings.

A couple offensive miscues gave the Vikings a thirdand- 13. Smith took the snap from center and had to quickly out maneuver a slew of Ennis pass rushers. The scrambling Smith found receiver Zane Hafliger at the 1-foot line.

The Vikings fans erupted in celebration only to be quickly hushed by the yellow flag on the field. The penalty, ineligible receiver downfield, pushed the Vikings back to the 18-yard line.

Once again, Smith had to throw under heavy Mustang pressure. The ball floated on him and he was intercepted, sealing the Ennis victory.

“It was a very hard fought football game between two evenly matched teams,” Krahn said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the Charlo Viking football team for playing their hearts out and leaving it all on the field.”

Ennis 30, Charlo 24

Ennis 6 0 6 12 6 -30

Charlo 0 0 12 12 0 - 24

E - Jake Knack 27 run (run failed)

C – Landers Smith 56 run (kick failed)

C - Smith 20 run (run failed)

E - Gavin McKitrick 46 pass from Tanner Wood (run failed)

E - Knack 2 run (run failed)

C - Smith 19 run (run failed)

E - McKitrick 46 pass from Wood (pass failed)

C - Smith 30 pass from Doty (run failed)

E - Corbin Wood 4 pass from Tanner Wood (run failed)

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