MOUNTAIN IRON – The fourth-seeded Virginia football team kept their season alive Tuesday, downing No. 5 Proctor 26-8 in the first round of the Section 7AAA Tournament in Mountain Iron.
The win sets the Blue Devils up with a contest against top-seeded Aitkin this coming Saturday in Aitkin.
Virginia used a solid running and passing game against the Rails as the consistent ground game helped make way for big gains through the air as well.
Proctor received the opening kickoff and began their first drive on their own 40-yard line. Rails quarterback Evan Checkalski opted for the ground game early on, handing the ball off to running backs Austin Mooers and Dominic Jauhola for some early success.
Chipping away at the field with runs no larger than eight yards, the Rails stayed consistent and soon found themselves on a first and 10 from the Virginia 22. The Devils defense came up big, however, and allowed just two yards on the next three rushing plays from Proctor. On fourth and eight, Checkalski threw his first pass of the game, one that fell incomplete and turned the ball over on downs to the Devils.
Starting at their own 20, the Devils wasted no time finding their way into the end zone. Quarterback Jack Toman connected with Landin McCarty for a 16-yard catch on first down. A Virginia penalty backed the Devils up giving them a first and 21. A play later, Miigwen Tuchel slashed the distance to 17 with a four-yard rush.
On third and 17, Toman aired it out downfield to six-foot-five receiver Mason Carlson. Carlson brought the ball down and took it to the house for a 71-yard score to give Virginia the 6-0 advantage with just over two minutes to play in the opening quarter.
The two teams traded possessions near the end of the first and into the second quarter with Virginia forcing Proctor punts and the Rails capitalizing on Blue Devil fumbles to regain possession.
After the second Virginia fumble and Proctor recovery, the Rails began their next drive on their own 46. Nate Onken took the handoff on the first play of the drive and broke free for a 54-yard score, putting Proctor up 8-6 following the two-point conversion.
Taking over with 6:40 to play in the half, Virginia began their next drive on their own 35 after Proctor’s ensuing kickoff dribbled out of bounds. Two runs from Ryan Scherf and Nick Peters gave Virginia 12 yards and a fresh set of downs at their own 47. From there, Toman connected with Carlson once more, this time for 22 yards to set up a first and 10 at the Proctor 31.
After two incomplete passes and a QB keeper that pushed Virginia back four yards, the Devils were looking at a fourth and 14. Needing a first down or a score, Toman connected with Peters through the air for a 15-yard reception that kept Virginia’s drive alive with a new set of downs at the Proctor 20.
Toman handed the ball off to Scherf for five yards and then again on the next play for 14 more, putting the Devils one yard away from pay dirt. Now in the wildcat formation, Scherf took the direct snap on the next play and rushed in for a score, putting the Devils up 12-8 on a drive that took just three and
a half minutes off the clock.
On the two-point conversion, Toman hit Carlson in the end zone to make it 14-8, a score that held into halftime.
The Devils began the second half with the ball, but their opening drive was cut short on yet another lost fumble, giving the Rails possession on their own 37. The mistake was quickly forgotten, however, as a Checkalski pass on third and 11 was intercepted by Virginia’s Tommy Nemanich. Virginia took back over on the Proctor 35.
A handoff for Scherf on first down gave Virginia six yards, putting them inside the Proctor 30. A play later, Tuchel took the handoff for the Devils and pushed forward 15 yards to put the Devils just 14 yards out from their next score.
That score did not take long to become a reality. On second and 10, Tuchel took the handoff from Toman and pushed up the left side, running in for the score from 14 yards out. Their third touchdown of the game, Virginia led Proctor 20-8 with 7:10 to play in the third quarter.
A quick three-and-out by the Virginia defense gave the Devils the ball back less than a minute later. Starting at their own 47, a penalty pushed Virginia back five yards. On third and 15, Toman hit Peters through the air for exactly 15 to set up a fresh set of downs.
A few solid runs from Virginia’s Jacob Burress got Virginia into scoring position at the Proctor 16. After pushing ahead for six more yards, Scherf took the snap again in the wildcat and handed the ball off to Peters on fourth and four. Peters swept up the left side and ran in for the score, putting the Devils up 26-8 as the buzzer rang to signal the end of the third quarter.
Neither team found the end zone in the fourth quarter as the Devils held on to beat Proctor, 26-8, moving their record to 4-3 on the season. The win also sends Virginia to the 7AAA semifinals against top-seeded Aitkin. That game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start in Aitkin.
PHS 0 8 0 0 -- 8
VHS 6 8 12 0 -- 26
V: Mason Carlson 71 pass from Jack Toman (pass fail)
P: Nate Onken 54 run (Trevor Lindberg pass from Evan Checkalski)
V: Ryan Scherf 1 run (Carlson pass from Toman)
V: Miigwen Tuchel 14 run (pass fail)
V: Nick Peters 10 run (run fail)