For three-and-a-half quarters, the North Meck Vikings had an upset victory over visiting Vance there for the taking.
But the Cougars, a week after losing an important MECKA 4A conference football game at Mallard Creek, dug deep enough to pull out a 21-14 win Friday night.
Vance’s defense made two big stops inside their five-yard line and quarterback Omar Baker directed two scoring drives in the last six minutes to help the Cougars (7-2, 4-1) get back in the win column. Running back Donnavon Spencer got the game-winning score on a 10-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes, 50 seconds to play.
“I don’t know if it was a hangover from last week (a 29-22 loss to No. 1 Mallard Creek), but we didn’t have a good week of practice,” said Vance coach Aaron Brand. “But it was a game of execution in the second half, and we did what we needed to do.”
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North Meck (3-6. 2-3), coming into the game on its first two-game winning streak in four years, couldn’t hang on after building a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter on touchdown runs of 15 and 2 yards by senior running back Corey Patton. Patton rushed for 108 yards on 34 carries.
At the same time, the Cougars were looking like anything but a playoff contender, giving the Vikings only 19 yards to drive for their first touchdown after a short punt, and giving up the second after a 72-yard drive.
“We had some early miscues that took away from our confidence,” Brand said. “We didn’t do well on the offensive end either, with a few early drops. Sometimes you just have to get some momentum going.”
The first turn in Vance’s favor was a 64-yard drive for a quick score on a 17-yard pass from Baker to tight end John Adams with 6:48 left before halftime. Baker finished the game with 8-for-20 passing for 158 yards.
And he had the Cougars driving from their 8 on their first possession of the second half, but an interception by North Meck’s LeDante Daniels killed that opportunity at the Vikings 23.
Then the Vance defense made the first of their two big stands, stopping Patton on fourth and goal from the Cougar 1 in the final seconds of the third quarter. On North Meck’s next possession a drive to the 3 — aided by a 32-yard pass from quarterback Kendall Coles to Malik Byrd on a fake field goal — stalled and kicker Robbie Quinlan missed a 33-yard attempt.
Baker tossed a 52-yard touchdown pass to Myles Dorn on the next Vance possession to tie the game at 14-14 with 6:10 t0 play. Then Spencer, who rushed 13 times for 111 yards, crashed in with the game-winner on the next possession.
“We played well in the second half,” Brand said. “We tackled their big back a little better and we survived the fake field goal, which honestly we didn’t expect.”
NOTES: North Meck is at Hough on Friday and Vance plays host to Hopewell.