Vikings’ football season ends in playoff loss

The Vikings’ first round of playoffs ended in a 28-21 loss against the Patrick Henry Patriots Friday, Nov. 13.

Despite the loss, the fourth quarter saw the night’s most exciting moments. Junior Trenton Fudge helped the Vikings rally to come within inches of keeping La Jolla’s postseason hopes alive. At the most critical stages of the game, Fudge’s three catches breathed life into the team’s efforts.

As the Vikings trailed 20-6 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, quarterback Casey Brown handed the ball to Alex Dockery, who ran it in for a La Jolla touchdown. The Vikings opted for the two-point conversion, on which Brown found Fudge on a quick slant to draw La Jolla within six points of the Patriots at 14-20.

After a stop from the Vikings’ defense, Patrick Henry punted with 9:46 left in the fourth, giving the ball to the Vikings around midfield. On the first play, Brown looked left to find Fudge on a short bubble screen. Fudge broke through four Patrick Henry defensive tackles to push into Patriots territory. On a third-and-1, Brown elected to run himself and picked up the first down. From the Patriots’ 36-yard line, Brown threw a deep pass left into the arms of Fudge, who made an acrobatic catch as he dragged a foot in-bounds for the completion.

Two plays later, from the Patriots’ 15-yard line, Brown threw a screen to the right, connecting with Fudge for another touchdown. With the ensuing extra point good, the Vikings then led 21-20.

On the Patriot’s next drive, two 15-yard penalties against La Jolla’s defense set Patrick Henry up deep in Vikings territory. After a short short run by Patriots running back Zariyan Cook, the Patriots were knocking on the door to La Jollas’ end zone. On the ensuing play, Henry quarterback John Demos handed off to Cook again for the score giving the Patriots a 26-21 lead. Electing to go for the two-point conversion, the Patriots executed a rare offensive formation known as the Swinging Gate, an offset formation with the offensive line swung left of the field, with an uneven number of players. Henry executed the play, giving the Patriots a 28-21 lead.

With under 1:40 to play, La Jolla’s offense looked desperately to tie the game. On a fourth-and-10 from the Patriots’ 36-yard line, Brown completed a 10-yard out to the right to Tanner Watson for the first down, keeping La Jolla’s drive alive. With 27 seconds remaining, Brown threw an interception to Henry defender Dezmon Patmon, putting an end to the Vikings’ playoff run after just one game.

After the game, La Jolla coach Jason Carter addressed his team, expressing his pride in coaching them. “You all fought a hard game. Keep your heads up and get ready for next season. We’re going to be stronger and faster.” Carter said.

What’s next? The Vikings finished with an overall record of 3-8. The Patriots have advanced in the CIF San Diego Section Division III playoffs and will play Bonita Vista in the quarterfinals Nov. 20.