Oct. 4, 2021 — On Friday, Oct. 1, the Siuslaw Vikings (4-0) took the fans at Hans Petersen Memorial Field on quite a ride — but delivered in the end with a 38-34 victory over defending 3A state champion Cascade Christian (1-2).
Siuslaw was down 10 with just over six minutes to go in the game but scored twice late to send Cascade Christian (CC), of Medford, home with their second loss of the season.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Vikings drove the field with little resistance from the Challenger defense, only to fumble on the CC 15-yard line. This turnover proved costly as the Challengers put together their own drive, culminating with a 7-yard touchdown run by running back Triston Wallace to go up 7-0.
This was the only scoring, for either team, in the first quarter.
Before the quarter ended, momentum switched in the home team’s direction when the Challengers were driving and in the red zone, threatening to take a two-touchdown lead. CC fumbled, Siuslaw junior Ian Sissel scooped up the ball and took an 87-yard fumble recovery to the CC 10-yard line.
Forty-five seconds into the second quarter, senior Camp Lacouture scored his first touchdown of the game, this one a rush, and followed that by running in the conversion to put Siuslaw up one, 8-7.
The Challengers answered, twice, with back-to-back drives ending with long touchdown passes from Keith Reed to Brody Sample to go up 20-8, the Vikings’ biggest deficit of the game.
Siuslaw chipped away at the lead before halftime when senior Beau Erickson hit classmate Isaac Garza with a 15-yard touchdown pass. SHS followed that with a Lacouture conversion to make it 20-16 at the break.
Garza had another solid game, receiving with six catches for 59 yards.
Though down, the Vikings went into the locker room with little doubt that victory was still in their reach.
“There was never a point in the game that we thought we were going to lose,” said senior lineman Avery Hart. “Sure, we were a little frustrated, but we still knew we were going to win.”
Less than three minutes into the second half, the Siuslaw coaches got sneaky and called for a halfback pass. Lacouture took a handoff from Erickson and surprised their opponents and everyone in attendance by throwing a 22-yard touchdown to fellow senior Braydon Thornton. Sissel ran in the conversion and the Vikings went up 24-20.
With the touchdown pass, Lacouture has now checked almost every box this season on the list of ways to score in a football game. He has thrown, ran and caught touchdowns. Also, the team’s place kicker, Lacouture has even scored with his feet by kicking in extra points. He has also scored numerous 2-point conversions.
Thornton had another stellar game receiving, along with excelling on defense and special teams. He finished with 8 catches for 116 yards.
The Vikings’ celebration was short lived. The Challengers scored the game’s next two touchdowns, one a 2-yard run and the other a long 35-yard pass, to retake the lead and then go up 10 going into the final frame, 34-24.
Even down 10 late, the Vikings still had complete confidence in their ability to end the night as the game’s winner and didn’t even consider attempting to overcome a 10-point deficit as a “comeback.”
“There was never really a doubt that a win was still there for us to grab,” said Lacouture. “We are still growing as a young football team. Being down 10 could really be a smack in the face that could cause us to lose control of the game. What I noticed, even though it was the first time we’ve trailed this season, we were all still locked in. We knew we could create strong steady drives and that we could put together defensive stops. To be honest it didn’t feel like a comeback because, in our minds, we were never out of it.”
The Vikings’ confidence showed when they put together a solid drive that ended when quarterback Erickson went around the end from 10 yards out for six points and Thornton ran in the conversion for two more. This closed the gap for Siuslaw and made it 34-32 with 6:42 to go in the game.
Erickson had a great day on the ground, rushing for 59 yards to go with his 17/28 and 210 yards passing, with 2 touchdowns through the air.
Momentum continued to go back and forth between the two teams until Siuslaw made two huge plays on defense.
First, Hart broke through CC’s offensive line to crush Challenger quarterback Reed for the sack and a huge loss of yardage. Then, after the Challengers were able to temporarily regain the momentum, Thornton intercepted a pass from Reed at the Viking 10-yard line, keeping the lead within reach for Siuslaw.
“I feel like those two plays, along with Sissel’s fumble recovery, really got us fired up,” said Hart. “After my sack and Braydon’s pick, we were hyped and really felt Cascade Christian could not play with us.”
After the interception, the Vikings put together a solid drive, culminating with a dramatic 38-yard touchdown pass from Erickson to Lacouture with just 37 seconds left on the clock to regain the lead 38-34.
The touchdown reception by Lacouture completed the rare single game “Touchdown Trifecta” for the senior running back, scoring all three possible ways on offense in one game. Lacouture’s stat line for the game is one to remember: 1 for 1 passing for 22 yards and a touchdown, 3 receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown and 28 rushes for 144 yards and a touchdown.
CC made it interesting and were able to drive down to the Viking 17-yard line with one play and a second left. The Siuslaw defense, again, stepped up when it needed to and stopped a rush by quarterback Reed on the 6-yard line as time expired to secure the win for SHS.
This win marks the halfway point in the regular season for the Vikings, with league foe La Pine (2-2) coming to town this week for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Friday, Oct. 8. The win moves SHS up to #4 in the OSAA 3A computer rankings. La Pine, who is ranked 11th, beat Pleasant Hill on Oct. 1 42-6 and will provide another challenge for Siuslaw.
In other action, Junction City won at Sisters, 27-18. South Umpqua continued to look like the team to beat in 3A, crushing St. Mary’s 55-6. Harrisburg got their first win of the season over Gervais 26-12 and Reedsport lost to a close one to Bandon, 14-7.
Tickets for Friday’s game must be purchased online and can be found at www.siuslaw.k12.or.us/o/siuslaw-high-school/page/siuslaw-on-line-ticketing.