Top-seeded Vikings take care of Warriors

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Mohawk's Jesse Leeth gains yardage behind the blocking of Mason Danner (right) and Bryce Sheets Saturday night in a Division VII regional quarterfinal at Leipsic.

LEIPSIC — In order to knock off No. 1 seeded Leipsic, Mohawk coach Eric Daniel said his team needed to play nearly mistake-free football.

It took one play for Leipsic to force a turnover. The Vikings’ Caleb Lammers picked off Mohawk’s Landen Snyder on the game’s first play, and returned it to the Warrior 5.

On the next play, Leipsic’s Juan Pena ran in a touchdown.

Eighteen seconds in, and Mohawk was behind, 7-0.

“That was a great play,” Leipsic coach Joe Kirkendall said. “You go right down and score and you’ve got the momentum.”

Mohawk did what it could to generate momentum of its own. Warriors Skyler Williams and Collin Barth each intercepted Leipsic’s Drew Liffick, and the Warriors marched deep into Vikings territory a couple of times.

But Leipsic kept Mohawk from scoring until the final minute of regulation. Meanwhile, it intercepted three Warrior passes, added a safety and three more touchdowns — all running plays — and eliminated Mohawk from the Division VII playoffs, 30-8.

The Warriors bowed out of the postseason at 6-5.

Mohawk mishandled a pair of snaps for substantial losses, and also was called for four procedure penalties.

“I know it’s cliché, but you can’t beat a team like that if you’re jumping offsides, turning the ball over, having bad snaps, missed tackles on defense, but they’re a dang good team, man,” Daniel said. “We knew we’d have to play pretty well perfect to have a look at them, and we did not play perfect.”

Leipsic didn’t play perfect either. But it got a big game from Lorenzo Walther, who ran for 97 yards and a pair of scores, and from Pena, who had 84 yards on the ground and sacked Snyder in the end zone for a first quarter safety.

That was more than enough for the Vikings, who limited Mohawk to 61 passing yards.

Mohawk’s ground game was effective, as Snyder ran for 91 yards and Leeth 81, but it didn’t lead to points.

“Defensively, we never felt good,” Kirkendall said. “We thought we never played our best defensively, but we were opportune, we made some tackles for loss, and we didn’t give up big plays. And if you don’t give up big plays, we’re good enough where you’re gonna have a hard time punching 10-12 play drives in against us.”

The Vikings led 16-0 after one quarter and 22-0 at half. They went up 30-0 after a Walther touchdown with 9:22 left in regulation.

With the running clock enacted, it looked like the Warriors would be shut out.

Defensive lineman Bryce Sheets made sure they weren’t.

With less than a minute to go, Sheets caught Leipsic tailback Jadon Turner for no gain at the Vikings 12. As he wrapped him up, Sheets took the ball away, and returned it to the end zone.

“I’m proud of him, I’m proud of that senior group,” Daniel said. “That’s just a reflection of the kids, that they just kind of continued to battle.”

Leipsic (10-1) advances to the Region 26 semifinals, where it will take on Edgerton, which dropped McComb, 44-21 Saturday.