By Matt Nestor
The Guilford Vikings (2-1) used two turnovers to create a short field on two touchdowns in their 21-14 victory over the Belvidere North Blue Thunder. But mental mistakes of their own allowed North (0-3) to stay close and almost pull the upset at the end.
After a touchdown by North senior quarterback Keith Larson brought them to within seven points, Belvidere had a shot for an onside kick and a tying drive. But Guilford recovered the kick, and was able to wind down the clock.
“It didn’t feel like it was a 21-14 ball game,” Guilford coach Mel Gilfillan said. “That onside kick became a big deal. We have to learn how to finish and play a little bit stronger in the fourth quarter.”
Guilford was coming off a tough loss to Boylan. The final ended up being a 21-3 defeat, but the score was 7-3 entering the fourth quarter. Gilfillan said he thought the tough loss against the defending conference champs may have been in the back of their minds.
“I think we had a little bit of a letdown this week,” he said. “We had a good week of practice and pushed ourselves harder. But we gave them a touchdown, and I thought we wore down a little bit towards the end.”
Zane Gilfillan helped the Vikings build up their lead to 21-7. He scored the Vikings’ first touchdown on a 2-yard run in the first quarter. In the third quarter, he returned an interception 65 yards to the North 6-yard line and finished off the drive with a 1-yard score.
“I wanted that (touchdown) so bad,” said the senior, who finished with 20 rushing yards. “I wanted to get the touchdown off of that interception, so it was nice to punch it in.”
Running back Tim Hill did the rest of the heavy lifting for the Vikings. The senior running back led the way for the Vikings with 21 carries for 87 rushing yards and a touchdown.
But not everything was easy for the Vikings. Quarterback Cody Bell, who threw for 39 yards and rushed for 49 yards in the game, dropped back to throw with a 7-0 Guilford lead. But Luis Reppert stepped in front of the pass and intercepted it, returning it 49 yards for North’s first score.
Larson, who finished the scoring, led Belvidere North. He ran for 30 yards and a touchdown and threw for 117 yards. Zackery Stinson also added 58 rushing yards for North.
Belvidere North actually outgained the Vikings 234 yards to 189 for the game. Some of that was the result of Guilford working with short fields after turnovers. In the end, Zane Gilfillan thought the Vikings were just able to wear down their opponent.
“Our offensive line did pretty good,” he said. “They were driving their blocks.”
The Vikings will play the Belvidere Bucs next week. North will look for their first win at home against Freeport.
In other area action:
• The East E-Rabs (2-1) stopped a late 2-point conversion attempt to hold off the Jefferson J-Hawks (1-2). East got two touchdowns from running back Karl Fort.
• Hononegah continued to roll with a 56-7 victory over Auburn (0-3). The Indians (3-0) were helped by Forrest Wiltfang, who rushed for 131 yards and three touchdowns.
• Boylan (3-0) kept pace with Hononegah by defeating Freeport (1-2) 55-7 behind a balanced offensive performance.
• Harlem (2-1) continued to bounce back from an earlier loss to top Belvidere (1-2).
From the September 16-22, 2009 issue.