By MICHAEL BURWELL
LEIPSIC — Leipsic’s injury-plagued football team just keeps on winning.
The Vikings, who were without starting quarterback Dylan Schroeder after he tore an ACL in a Week-6 loss to McComb, held North Baltimore’s high-scoring offense in check and used a strong running game to rack up a 42-12 Blanchard Valley Conference win on Friday night.
“With losing Dylan, we challenged our guys to get back to playing Leipsic football the way we’re capable of playing it, the way we did a few years ago,” Leipsic coach Joe Kirkendall said. “And defensively, we haven’t lost anybody. Our defense has been pretty good and we let those 11 guys go to work, then they play very, very hard.”
The Vikings (6-2, 4-2 BVC) held North Baltimore to just 22 yards in the first half and 166 total. The Tigers went three-and-out on their first four possessions.
“This was one of the better defenses we’ve faced all year, if not the best defense,” North Baltimore coach Jeff Weber said after the Tigers dropped to 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the BVC. “They were beating us up front with a three-man pressure and when you do that, it’s going to make for a long game and that’s what happened.”
Leipsic hounded North Baltimore quarterback Brady Rader throughout the game, sacking him five times and forcing an interception. The Vikings also recovered a fumble.
“I thought our secondary did a tremendous job of taking away things early and then our pass rush did what it had to do,” Kirkendall said. “As (Rader) took off and ran around, we stayed on guys and we made some things happen. So that’s the key defensively because that’s an offense that can put up a lot of yards and a lot of points, so for us to kind of take that away from them, that was a great effort.”
Leipsic’s Cole Rieman, a 6-foot, 160-pound junior wide receiver, rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. He also caught two passes for 48 yards and had a 53-yard punt return that set up a touchdown late in the first half.
“Cole’s a tremendous athlete, but he is a quintessential football player,” Kirkendall said. “We ask him to block and he does that. We ask him to run inside or outside, he does that and he’ll still go catch the ball.”
Rieman ran for a 33-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and after Juan Pena’s two-point conversion run, the Vikings owned a 15-0 lead. Rieman scored on a 30-yard run up the middle on a reverse to put Leipsic ahead 29-0.
Brayden Niese, a 5-10, 172-pound senior, scored a pair of touchdowns for Leipsic in the first quarter and had three overall. He opened the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run and had a 20-yard scoring reception over the middle from backup quarterback Drew Liffick.
Niese’s 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter put the Vikings ahead 42-6.
Although the Vikings lost Schroeder for the season, junior running back and first-team all-BVC selection Gavin Lomeli returned after missing the last three games with an injury. He had four carries for 39 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown late in the second quarter after Rieman’s long punt return.
“He looked good,” Kirkendall said of Lomeli. “He looked like he had a burst. He’ll be sore tomorrow, but the knee injury, there’s nothing structural so he should just get better and better every week now.”
Overall, the Vikings had 280 rushing yards. North Baltimore had 60, with negative yardage other than a 67-yard touchdown run by Kole Wymer down the right sideline in the third quarter.
Rader, who entered Friday with more than 2,000 passing yards, was just 10 of 24 for 106 yards. He found Levi Gazarek for a 5-yard touchdown late in the game on a wild pass as he was being dragged to the ground.
Gazarek led North Baltimore with 65 receiving yards on four catches.
Liffick, a 5-7, 138-pound sophomore who started his second straight game, completed 6 of 11 passes for 107 yards. He had a 37-yard completion to Rieman over the middle on fourth-and-9 on the Vikings’ opening series, and he also found Rieman for an 11-yard gain on fourth-and-7 early in the fourth quarter to help set up Niese’s second touchdown run.
“He’s a smart kid, he understands his own limitations and we understand his strengths, so he does what we ask him to do and he’ll only get better,” Kirkendall said.
Juan Pena, who was 4 of 5 on point-after-touchdown attempts, added 78 yards on 10 carries. The Vikings punted just once, but had two lost fumbles.
North Baltimore 0 0 6 6 — 12
Leipsic 22 14 0 6 — 42
LEIP — Niese 4 run (Pena kick)
LEIP — Rieman 33 run (Pena run)
LEIP — Niese 20 from Liffick (Pena kick)
LEIP — Rieman 30 run (Pena kick)
LEIP — Lomeli 15 run (Pena kick)
NB — Wymer 67 run (pass failed)
LEIP — Niese 1 run (kick failed)
NB — Gazarek 5 pass from Rader (pass failed)
First Downs 7 17
Rushes-yards 18-60 47-280
Passing Yards 106 107
Comp-Att-Int 10-24-1 6-11-0
Punts-Avg. 4-30 1-38
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-2
Penalties-Yards 4-18 2-30
rushing — North Baltimore, Wymer 10-55, Rader 8-5. Leipsic, Rieman 11-106, Pena 10-78, Lomeli 4-39, Niese 8-25, Williamson 4-23, Sanchez 2-6, Walther 2-4, Roman 3-4, Liffick 1-(minus-1), Jimenez 1-(minus-1), Lammers 1-(minus 3).
passing — North Baltimore, Rader 10-24-1-106. Leipsic, Liffick 6-11-0-107.
receiving — North Baltimore, Gazarek 4-65, Patterson 2-21, Flores 2-9, Durfey 1-7, Wymer 1-4. Leipsic, Rieman 2-48, Niese 1-20, Hiegel 1-17, Sanchez 1-15, Pena 1-7.
By MICHAEL BURWELL