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Saturday stunner: Vanier takes high school football win over Peacock

Late touchdown leads to 18-13 Vikings victory
With the way things had gone for the Vanier Vikings and Peacock Tornadoes in the Saskatchewan Rural Football League this season, it would be safe to say Peacock was the overwhelming favourite heading into the two teams’ match-up on Saturday at Gutheridge Field.

The Vikings had yet to win a game this season and were coming off a 35-0 loss to Estevan. The Tornadoes, meanwhile, were sitting with a 2-2 record and looking to keep pace with the league leaders.

But high school football is high school football, and interesting things can happen out of the blue.

Connor Lamb scored the go-ahead touchdown on an 18-yard run with 1:14 to play and the Vikings held off Peacock the rest of the way to take an 18-13 victory in one of the largest upsets in recent league history.

“It was crazy, the intensity was way up and we had no clue how it was going to go,” said Lamb, who finished the game with four carries for 36 yards and one catch for 11. “It could have gone both ways the whole game, it was really hard fought…it was a heck of a game, we just keep grinding and putting in the work every day and it paid off.”

Xander Montgomery opened scoring for Vanier with a six-yard touchdown run with six minutes to play in the first quarter. The rest of the half was all Peacock, though, as they would score a safety in the opening minutes of the second quarter before Jude Tysdal-Fall recorded a rouge with 4:09 remaining and added a rushing major with 1:57 until the break to put the Tornadoes ahead 10-6.

The two teams would settle into a stalemate the majority of the third quarter before Montgomery scored on a two-yard run with 2:27 remaining to put Vanier up 12-10 heading into the final frame. He’d finish with 25 carries for 108 yards.

Tysdal-Fall would hit a field goal 7:20 to play to give Peacock a 13-12 lead, setting the stage for Lamb’s late-game heroics.

“The message we’ve been telling our kids, the way the league is this year anyone can beat anyone and we’ve been trying to sell the message of staying together and we’ll come out on the right side of one of these at some point,” said Vanier head coach Ryan Gottselig. “We made the plays late that we needed to make for a change and it was awesome. I’m so proud of these guys.”

Those late plays included a fumble recovery by Brydon Bell on Peacock’s second-last drive in the final minute as well as a couple of deep pass knockdowns as the Tornadoes ran a pair of late Hail Marys.

The win was especially heartening for the Vikings given how the young squad has been through a trying season thus far.

“I’m not really a guy for morale victories, so it’s been a battle,” Gottselig said. “But we were talking about the things we have done throughout the year and trying to build on those things, trying to slow things down and win one play at a time, then one series and put a drive together and eventually it will spill over into the game. The kids bought in and I’m super proud of them.”

For their part, the Tornadoes were in less than ideal form coming into the game. Personnel issues had left them scrambling in skill positions – running back Kayde Shymko was sidelined due to a suspension, quarterback Kyle Yamnuik was battling a hip flexor injury that limited his ability to run. That led to a bunch of players taking the field in new positions, as head coach Bert Redstone would explain.

“Matt Cunningham comes over and plays fullback, had never played it in his life,” he said. “Hayes Mealing comes over and backs up the fullback spot, never played it in his life. Jude Tysdal-Fall comes over and plays running back, had never played that before. Hayden Tollefson had to take some snaps at running back, Davin Miller had to take some snaps at quarterback and had never played there before. So that was our install this week, and wow, what effort. So kudos to those guys for stepping up the way they did.”

Redstone wasn’t about to let that land as the sole reason for their loss, though, and was quick to give the Vikings credit for their performance.

“And kudos to Ryan Gottselig for getting that Vanier team ready to go,” he said. “They were obviously hungry for a win… their o-line has some big boys and they played like men, so hats off to them.”

Vanier improved to 1-3 win the win, Peacock fell to 2-3.

The Vikings are back in action on Thursday, Oct. 10 as they host the Swift Current Colts (4 p.m., Gutheridge Field), while Peacock has a bye week and are back on the field Oct. 19 against Weyburn.