The team was ready to play, head coach Mike Kerr said, and they brought the energy needed, but the game did not go exactly as they hoped.
“We had a great week of practice,” he said. “The kids were all in. We had a great warm up session. Unfortunately, we just had a few things go bad early on but the energy was there all night.”
The Lions defense was able to hold the Vikings off for the first nine minutes of the first quarter. However, the Vikings offense powered through on the 33-yard line, receiving the extra point, giving Academy a 7-0 lead.
The Lions pushed through the second quarter, but by the seven minute mark, the Vikings were able to run a 48-yard touchdown. The Lions were now down by 14. By the end of the first half, the score was 28-0.
“We weren’t as physical as Academy,” senior cornerback Gavin Benson said.
Benson added that although the team had a slow start, he thought the defense did a good job anticipating what the Vikings offense would do. For this game in particular, they spent a lot of time watching film, he explained.
“We wanted to have a better understanding of who we were playing against,” Benson said.
Kerr said that was the best he has seen the defense play so far this season. One defensive play that stuck out to him was a fourth down stop made early in the game, he said.
“Dylan Ryan made a huge play for a tackle for loss that really set the tone for the defense all night, and I thought they played outstanding overall, other than one or two mistakes,” Kerr noted.
By halftime, the score was 28-0, but Benson said the Lions continued to play hard through the second half, keeping the Vikings from scoring during the third quarter. Although the fourth quarter started with a Viking touchdown, that didn’t take away all of the Lions’ momentum, he explained.
Sophomore wide receiver Kaleb Krasnow received a pass from sophomore quarterback Jackson Frey and was able to score the first Lions’ touchdown of the night. Benson said this touchdown really helped the team up their energy and continue to fight.
While the team had lots of energy throughout the game, Kerr noted that the fans at the game were also a big help.
“I can’t say enough about the energy in the stands and the cheerleaders,” he said.
With less than two minutes left in the game, senior wide receiver Jamie Wright had a 68-yard touchdown, leading to the game’s final score of 35-13.
Frey had hoped that the game would go better but said the team will continue to work hard in upcoming games.
“We didn’t play to our standard,” he said. “They were a good team, but we definitely should’ve had a closer game.”
The game did not end how the players and fans hoped it would, but Kerr explained that disappointment will be used as motivation for the future.
“It’s a game that the kids really want to win,” he said. “They put their heart and soul into it and it’s obviously a big deal and a big rivalry for them. They were obviously disappointed walking off the field with another loss. It is something that motivates them throughout the year.”