Berry de­feats LaGrange

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL SPORTS - RN-T Sports Writer By Tommy Ro­manach

From the first snap, LaGrange made it known to the Berry Col­lege fans in Val­halla sta­dium it was go­ing to con­trol the ball. Whether it was a run in the Wing-T for­ma­tion or a short pass for a first down, the Pan­thers wanted to keep the Vik­ings’ of­fense off the field.

But one thing LaGrange could never con­trol Satur­day evening was Berry quar­ter­back Slade Dale. And the ju­nior made the plays to keep the Vik­ings on top.

Berry’s de­fense never broke against a grind­ing LaGrange of­fense as the Vik­ings beat the Pan­thers 28-14.

The win keeps Berry un­de­feated en­ter­ing con­fer­ence play for the sec­ond straight year.

“Hats go off to our guys, be­cause we f ound a rhythm when we had to,” Berry head coach Tony Kun czewski said. “We cer­tainly need to clean a few things up, but the de­fense made some stops and Slade made some big plays.”

Dale fin­ished with 272 t otal yards and f our touch­downs, col­lect­ing 100 yards on the ground and an­other 172 through the air. Ma­son Kin­sey was his main tar­get, bring­ing down five passes for 72 yards and two touch­downs.

Berry (2-0) was only on the field for 21 min­utes thanks to LaGrange’s slow pace, but when it did get the ball it made enough plays to break away from the Pan­thers.

LaGrange quar­ter­back Con­nor Blair tied the game at 14 with an 8-yard t ouch­down t o Model alum Bren­dan Thomas with 2:46 left in the third.

On the en­su­ing drive, Dale com­pleted three passes for 80 yards, end- ing with a 24-yard touch­down to Kin­sey as the quar­ter ex­pired.

Af­ter forc­ing a pair of LaGrange t hree- and­outs, Berry found it­self at the LaGrange 30 to be­gin its next drive. On third down, Dale went deep for Kin­sey again, find­ing the sopho­more this time on a 26-yard touch­down to go up 28-14 with 7:08 left in the game.

“We knew what LaGrange’s of­fense was and what it wanted to do, so we knew we had to come out quick,” Kin­sey said. “All the credit goes to the of­fen­sive line for giv­ing Slade t i me and t hen Slade for mak­ing two per­fect throws.”

LaGrange (0-2) re­lied on Blair all night, as he fin­ished 28- of- 38 for 219 yards and a touch­down. The se­nior frus­trated Berry most of the night with small passes that kept drives go­ing while run­ning down the clock.

But other t han t wo touch­downs, Berry’s de- fense stood strong. Twice in the first half the Vik­ings forced fourth downs around mid­field and they stalled an­other LaGrange drive to be­gin the sec­ond half that re­sulted in a missed field goal.

On the final LaGrange drive, the Pan­thers went 56 yards only to stall out on fourth down at the Berry 35-yard line.

“At the end of the day, we aren’t look­ing at the stats as much as the end re­sult,” Kunczewski said. “We tried to make them one-di­men­sional throw­ing the ball, and that was our goal all game.”

As the Berry de­fense found its rhythm, the of­fense re­lied on a ground game of Dale and run­ning back Ja­cob Collins. Collins fin­ished with 66 rush­ing yards, al­most all of them com­ing on the final three drives.

The Vik­ings be­gin their South­ern Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion sched­ule next week when they host Rhodes Col­lege.

Steven Eck­hoff / Rome News-Tri­bune

Berry quar­ter­back Slade Dale (5) dives for the end zone for a touch­down while be­ing tack­led by LaGrange’s Shamar Slappy dur­ing the Vik­ings’ 28-14 win over the Pan­thers on Satur­day at Val­halla.

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