Viper Win Against Vista Ridge Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive

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The Vipers pulled off a must-win victory over the Vista Ridge Rangers at Gupton Stadium last Friday night, keeping the Viper playoff hopes alive and crushing the Rangers’ playoff standings.

“Going into the game the whole team was pretty confident,” Viper defensive lineman Matt Conte said. “We all knew that if we lost this game we wouldn’t go to the playoffs.”

The Vipers set the tone early in the game as wide receiver Tristan Paffe connected the pass from quarterback Dakota Prukop and drove into the end zone for a successful touchdown. Kicker Rand Fredrickson’s extra point was good.

“If we didn’t practice like we were going to win, then we knew trying to win on Friday night alone was not going to work,” offensive lineman Kyle Gruber said.

The Ranger offense made consistent first downs that gave them the yards they needed to set up deep in their own territory. Ranger kicker Chris Nichols’ field goal attempt could not be blocked, giving Vista Ridge a slim four-point deficit, the closest they would come to overcoming the Vipers for the rest of the game.

“We were very excited with the score we had,” Gruber said. “But we had to stay focused and finish the game off.”

In the second quarter, Prukop connected on a pass to receiver Brandon Brown, who drove for the second Viper touchdown of the night, followed by a third Viper touchdown as running back Yuron Shears carried the ball into the end zone. Fredrickson succeeded again for the extra points.

 The Vista Ridge offense fought back and gave quarterback Blake Estes the positioning he needed for a straight run, resulting in the first and only Ranger touchdown of the night. The extra point kick by Nichols was good.

 “I was just thinking, ‘Wow, there goes playoffs,’” Ranger offensive lineman Cooper Foster said. “We just didn’t play as planned.”

  The Prukop-Paffe duo did it again, with a 41-yard play with Paffe on the carry for the last touchdown and points either team would make that evening putting the Vipers up 28-10.

 The second half was filled with excitement, penalties and injuries from both teams, but no points were put on the scoreboard.

 “At halftime, I knew that we were on our way to beating Vista [Ridge], which is a huge stepping stone to making playoffs,” Paffe said. “We were still very focused because we didn’t want to risk Vista [Ridge] coming back and beating us.

 The Vipers defeated the Rangers with a final score of 28-10, knocking the Rangers out of playoffs and heightening the Vipers chances for their first chance in history at playoffs.

 “[When] I was walking off the field it hit me that it was going to be the last time I would ever get to play at my home stadium,” Ranger Foster said. “So I just sat there on the field remembering all the good memories I had there.”

 Next week the Vipers will take on the Rouse Raiders at Monroe Stadium for their homecoming game. If they succeed against the Raiders next week and the Mustangs the following week, their chances for a playoff spot are secured.