Viking invasion: Vidalia races past Sicily Island in season opener, 49-6

Published 1:17 am Saturday, September 3, 2016

Vidalia High School utilized a spark from a pair of big plays in the first quarter to catapult itself to a 49-6 win over Sicily Island High School.

The LHSAA Class 3A Vikings jumped out to a 27-6 lead at halftime and recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, and capped that drive with a touchdown to extend its lead to 28 points.

The Vidalia defense held Class 1A Sicily Island to 66 yards in the second half and forced six turnovers.

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“(The defense) attacked the ball and didn’t overrun guys,” Vidalia coach Jeff Hancock said. “Our defense is going to be good this year.”

Hancock said Sicily Island’s defensive front surprised the Vikings in the first quarter. The Tigers defense forced Vidalia to go three-and-out on the first two drives of the game.

Tigers quarterback Tyreke Tolliver threw wide out Devion Dunbar open on a 35-yard, diving touchdown reception to put the first points on the board.

“We started off with a lot of spirit,” head coach Curtis Shavers. “The defense played well and the offense played well. But, to be honest, our leadership was lacking from out senior players. They didn’t carry the leadership they should have for the course of the whole game.”

Vidalia’s offense picked up at the end of the first quarter. Viking quarterback Tristan Weatherly connected with wide receiver Jordan Mays on a 75-yard pass to set their offense up inside the 1-yard line. Running back Josh Pace capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown.

Leading 7-6, Josh Pace pounded the ball on three consecutive running plays to help Vidalia drive 60 yards and finish with a touchdown just before the five-minute mark.

“We had to wear Sicily Island down,” Hancock said. “They blitzed and attacked us and we had to wear them down.”

As Sicily Island tried to respond, Trey Batey reeled in an interception for Vidalia on the following drive, giving the Vikings good field position at the Tigers’ 15-yard line.

Wideout LJ Jones hauled in a 10-yard pass from Weatherly to set up the Vikings with another goal-line opportunity, and Weatherly punched the ball in himself. Pace squeezed in another touchdown with 21 seconds remaining in the half.

Coming out of the locker room, Shavers hoped his squad could convert their bottled up frustration into points, but Jones recovered a fumbled kickoff for Vidalia, and the wind was sucked out of the Sicily Island squad.

“We told the kids that it wasn’t over with, a couple of touchdowns we gave up were inexcusable,” Shavers said.

Vidalia’s defense dominated the second half. The Vikings forced a three-and-out on Sicily Island’s first drive and Cedric Daniels blocked and returned the Tigers’ punt for a touchdown.

The following drive, Jones forced a fumble to pin Sicily Island back inside its own 10-yard line. The Vikings pressured Dunbar, who took snaps for the Tigers in the second half, and gang-tackled him for a team safety.

“We’ve been working,” linebacker Tony Tolliver said. “The offense was doing their job, so we had to do ours … We were just relentless.”

Tolliver tallied four tackles for loss, including one sack.

Vidalia’s defense held Sicily Island to 66 yards in the second half.

Dunbar tallied 37 rushing yards and 50 passing yards and a touchdown for Sicily Island.

Weatherly was 4-for5 passing with 133 yards for Vidalia. Pace led the Vikings rushing with 14 carries for 55 yards and three touchdowns. Thanks to Mays’ 75-yard reception, he led the Vikings in receiving.

Vidalia (1-0) looks toward Delhi High School next week, while Sicily Island (0-1) eyes a bye week.