RUTLAND - The top two teams faced off in the high school division II football championship on Saturday. First seeded Lyndon Institute Vikings went up against second seeded, and two-time defending champions, Rice Memorial Green Knights.
The game looked promising for the Vikings as they scored the first touchdown of the day in the first quarter, off of a 45 yard rushing touchdown from Derryck Colburn. This would be the only Viking score in the half.
Turnovers proved to be costly. Quarterback James Shufelt fumbled the ball off of a triple option, in which Rice recovered the ball and later scored a touchdown from a 10 yard run by Rice's Chris Jansen. Followed by a two point conversion that made it an 8-7 game.
With only a few minutes left in the half Shufelt converted on a fourth down play, but coughed up the ball, giving it back to Rice, which turned it into a 75 yard throw that was caught by Rice's Tommy Fitzgerald.
The start of the second half was a continuation of the first. Shufelt threw an interception, that later turned into 7 more for the Green Knights.
The Vikings would mount a comeback, starting with a 37 yard touchdown by Kyle Cippilone. Who caught the ball and dragged a Rice defender with him for the score; and four mintues later, Davis Guyer plowed into the end zone for a twenty yard touchdown cutting the lead to 27-21.
"We came alive and we started playing our ball, but we just ran out of time," said Lyndon Quarterback James Shufelt. The Vikings got on a roll in the third quarter, but were held scoreless in the fourth, losing to Rice Memorial.
The Vikings would finish with six turnovers in the game, while only having 14 turnovers throughout the season. "It's just one of those situations where we couldn't catch a break it it seemed like and when we did have some opprotunities we didn't play well enough. I give Rice a lot of credit, they played better than we did and whoever plays the best wins everytime, I think they played better," said Vikings Head Coach Dan Nolan after the game.
"It honestly feels like I just got stabbed in the gut. I have the best team in the world. I would not want to be on any other team, these guys are my brothers. I will still die for these guys on and off the field. These guys are amazing, and those guys played the hardest it just didn't work out in their favor," said Shufelt after the loss.
The Vikings will be graduating 16 senior players from this impressive second place season.