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Lake County Sentinel
Blue Devils use "shock & awe" type comeback to stun Vikings 21-16

Twice in the last five seasons the Wickliffe Blue Devils football year ended at the hands of the LaBrae Vikings. Saturday night LaBrae had to travel into unfamiliar territory to Wickliffe Memorial Stadium to face the 7-0 Blue Devils who dismantled and shut out Smithville last week 41-0. LaBrae defeated Brookfield 55-54 in a shootout to advance to Wickliffe. Early in the contest it looked as though the third time would not be the charm for the Blue Devils as the Vikings took an early 10-0 lead. However, the Blue Devils were not ready to go home and scored 21 straight points in the third quarter to exercise past demons and defeat LeBrae 21-16 ending the Vikings season.

The first drive of the contest after the Vikings received the opening kickoff they drove 59 yards on 13 plays taking 7:16 off the clock before Quarterback Aidan Stephens kept the ball and ran it in from 2 yards out to take a 7-0 lead after kicker Jacob McCartney converted the extra point with 4:47 left in the first quarter.

The second quarter was scoreless until the last drive. The Blue Devils only ran 19 plays in the first half while the Vikings ran 36 plays in the half. LaBrae took possession with 1:53 left in the second quarter and ran seven plays until they were in field goal position and McCartney booted a 33 yard attempt that was good with no time left on the clock to give the Vikings a 10-0 lead at halftime.

Blue Devils coach Marce Porcello said that he told his team at halftime that they were going to make some adjustments and he also told them he wanted to coach them for at least another week. They responded.

What the Blue Devils did in the first 1:49 of the second half to the Vikings might go down in local high school football as Shock and Awe. Wickliffe took the opening kickoff of the second half and just :49 second later Blue Devils Senior Chase Fortkamp ran 56 yards for a touchdown to cut the LaBrae lead to 10-7 after Senior Isaiah Bolon converted the extra point.

Wickliffe then shocked the Vikings on the kickoff when they converted a perfect onside kick recovering it on their own 49-yard line. Just two plays later the awe came into play when Fortkamp rumbled 46 yards to endzone giving Wickliffe a 14-10 lead with 10:11 left in the third quarter.

After Wickliffe forced LaBrae to punt after a three and out the Blue Devils used just six plays, including a 32 yard run by Fortkamp to set up Senior Quarterback Mason Bala’s 13 yard run to the endzone giving Wickliffe a 21-10 lead with 5:39 left in the third quarter.

The Vikings did respond with a 69-yard 12 play drive capped off by a touchdown Stephens from four yards out. LaBrae attempted a two-point conversion which failed, and Wickliffe led 21-16 with :39 left in the third quarter.

Wickliffe then used their run game to wear out the Vikings and dominate the clock as they held the ball for 8:10 in the final quarter running the ball 12 times to kill the clock. LaBrae did have one drive in the middle of the fourth quarter but it ended at the Wickliffe three-yard line when Bala intercepted Stephens pass to end the threat.

Once again Wickliffe dominated the ground game led by the offensive line of Seniors Zak Esteves, Tyler Fisher, Donovan Liuzzo, Mickey Moon and Stephen Kulchock running the ball 40 times for 334 yards, while the Vikings ground game had 38 attempts for 184 yards. The Vikings did have success in the passing game as they had 16 completions on 24 attempts for 192 yards. The stout Wickliffe defense has now allowed only 62 points in eight games this season for an average of 7.75 per game.

Next Saturday the Blue Devils will be the host the Creston Norwayne Bobcats who are the third seed of Division 21 Region VI and defeated Canton Central Catholic 51-22 on Saturday night. Game time will be 7:00 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Wickliffe. 
tshirer@lakecountysentinel.com follow Tim on Twitter @TBBucsTim or follow us on Twitter @LCSentinelcom 
​POSTED 10/24/2020 23:03
Photo by Chaz Matyja