Late touchdown dooms Pungo in back-and-forth battle

Published 12:27 am Saturday, September 29, 2018


For the Daily News

BELHAVEN — Halifax Academy and Pungo Christian Academy played a back and forth game from start to finish. In the end, the Vikings had the ball last and scored a touchdown with 21 seconds left to win 34-32 over the Raiders in a game that featured big play after big play.

Benjamin Simmons scored on the opening play from scrimmage to give Pungo (2-2) a 6-0 lead 21 seconds into the game. After that, Simmons intercepted a pass after a promising opening drive by the Vikings (4-0). Halifax answered with a rushing touchdown by Harrison Hardee, and a two-point conversion gave the Vikings an 8-6 lead. However, Simmons continued his stellar opening quarter when Nate Vanstallduinen found him for a long touchdown pass to give Pungo the lead back at 12-8 going into the second quarter.

The defenses came to play in the second quarter as Simmons continued to build on his big first half. His second interception stalled a Vikings drive that went inside the 10-yard line. However, Halifax managed to score a touchdown before the half and forced a fumble to have another scoring chance. However, the drive stalled again after another interception and Pungo trailed 14-12 at halftime.

Raiders head coach Stacey Keech was proud of his team’s effort despite the result.

“The team gave a great effort today,” Keech said. “We gave it 100 percent, and I’m proud of the guys. We have to contain the run better and that’s why we didn’t get the result we wanted.”

In the third quarter, Halifax running back Eli Harris scored 50 seconds into the second half to extend the Vikings lead. However, Vanstallduinen answered with a rushing touchdown to keep the Raiders close. The Raiders then regained the lead on Simmons’ third touchdown of the night and led 26-22 going into the fourth.

The game continued to be back and forth in the final 12 minutes. Eli Harris of Halifax made a big defensive play with an interception, as the Raiders were driving to regain the lead. Despite a stalling offense in the fourth, the Raiders recovered a botched snap and returned it for a touchdown to go up 32-28, but it wasn’t meant to be at the end.

“Containing the run and better play defensively will help us win games,” Keech added. “There are a lot of positives to take away from this game.”

The Pungo varsity football program continues its inaugural season with an away game at Lawrence Academy (0-4) next Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.