JOHNSTOWN – Things weren’t going so well early on for host Northridge Friday in its Jamboree scrimmage against Berne Union.
First-year coach Shawn Hinkle entered the huddle with a fervor after taking time out, and lit a fire under the Vikings.
After trailing 7-0, Northridge rattled off five consecutive touchdowns, including four in the second quarter, en route to a 34-7 win in a final tuneup for next Friday’s regular season opener.
The varsities only played one half, but the Vikings made the most of that time as Hinkle and company try to turn things around north of Johnstown.
“He pumped us up, told us we had to score,” said junior quarterback Daniel Hatfield. “You have to have that mind-set that you’re going to score every time. Do whatever you can to get into the end zone. That first touchdown kind of gave us a spark. The line blocked better, the running backs ran harder and the receivers ran better routes. We kept the pedal on the gas.”
Hatfield provided the spark. Operating out of the spread, he broke tackles and cut back on a 20-yard, then cut to the outside and out-ran defenders for a 37-yard touchdown.
That tied the game seven at the end of the first. Then the Vikings exploded.
Senior quarterback Alexander Webb got into the act with a 50-yard keeper, followed by his 10-yard TD burst up the middle. Sophomore Chris Absten recovered a Berne Union fumble, setting up Hatfield’s 5-yard touchdown run. Northridge then took to the air, Hatfield connecting with sophomore Nick Hatten from 41 yards out. Then, Webb found senior Brenton Ickes on a 42-yard touchdown pass.
Senior Tristan Foor kicked 4-of-5 extra points for the Vikings. With backups playing the second half, sophomore Alex Chalfant broke loose on a 70-yard touchdown run.
Junior inside linebacker Gage Linkous led a Northridge defense that shut down the Rockets after their opening touchdown drive, twice getting into the backfield for tackles for loss.
“It was because of our (defensive) line,” he said. “They opened up the holes and I was able to get through them to make plays. They did their job, and I did my job.”
Linkous is well aware the scrimmage doesn’t count in Northridge’s record, although it serves as a good confidence booster. The Vikings have gone 2-8 and 1-9 the past two seasons, and tee it up for real Friday at Washington Court House.
“It (the bad start) was a wakeup call for our guys,” he said. “But next week, we can’t come out like that at the start. We can’t need another wakeup call. We have to come out strong at the beginning.”