MOUNT BERRY, Ga. — Continuing to shatter records, expectations and milestones, the No. 18 Berry College football team won its first ever NCAA Playoff game this afternoon with a 34-20 victory over the Huntingdon College Hawks.
The game resembled a more old-fashioned style of play: win up front and run the ball. Both teams combined for just 20 completions through the air, but accounted for 190 yards on the ground with 84 combined rushing attempts. When the plays did come through the air, they were big as the Vikings averaged 9.3 yards per pass play including a 59-yard score to sophomore wide receiver Mason Kinsey late in the third to seal the game.
Berry opened the game with an eight play, 75-yard scoring drive that was capped by junior quarterback Slade Dale picking up his eighth rushing score of the year. Immediately after, Huntingdon blocked the extra point attempt to give Berry a 6-0 lead.
The Hawks were able to get three back off a 42-yard field goal from Chase Young on their next possession. Several drives later, Berry's Will Kenworthy would have a punt blocked, giving Huntingdon possession on Berry's 20-yard-line. The Hawks went on to score and take a 10-6 lead.
Huntingdon's lead would hold for just a few seconds, as Berry's C.J. Stone took Chase Young's ensuing kickoff 90 yards for the Vikings first ever kickoff return for a touchdown, giving Berry a 13-10 lead.
A three-and-out set Berry up for a six-play, 56-yard drive that was capped off by tight end Adam Taylor's second career receiving score on a 27-yard post route. Taylor's touchdown put Berry up 20-10. The Vikings added another score before the half to complete an eight-play, 54-yard drive. Slade Dale found senior wide receiver Trey Ciresi in the corner of the end zone for a 12-yard score to give Berry a 27-10 advantage heading into halftime.
In one of the more impressive drives the Vikings have faced all year, Huntingdon took 9:31 off the game clock and marched 95 yards downfield on 18 plays to see freshman quarterback Michael Lambert connect with Otis Porter for a 9-yard touchdown. Lambert entered the game out of the half for Preston Samoden.
The Hawks then blocked yet another Kenworthy punt after the Vikings went three-and-out on the next possession. Huntingdon took advantage of the short field to add a field goal and cut the Berry lead to 27-20.
Berry's Mason Kinsey then found separation on the next drive on a slant and took a pass from Dale 59-yard for a touchdown to extend the lead and put Berry up 34-20. The Vikings got to quarterback Michael Lambert four times in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
- Slade Dale: 7-12, 124 pass yards, 3 TOT TD, 35 rush yards
- Jacob Collins: 13 att, 63 yards
- Mason Kinsey: 5 rec, 112 yards, TD
- Mamadou Soumahoro: 8 tackles, 2 sacks
- Tyler Bertolini: 6 tackles, 1 sack
- Michael Lambert: 7-16, 117 yards, TD
- Vic Jerald: 15 att, 52 yards
- Otis Porter: 6 rec, 77 yards, TD
- Brandon Williams: 9 tackles
- Austin Washington: 8 tackles, 2 TFL
- Mason Kinsey became the first Viking to ever eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a season this afternoon
- Mamadou Soumahoro increased his sack total to 13.5 today with a strong showing
- The Vikings have now won 16 straight games
- The No. 18 Vikings are set to face No. 6 St. Thomas next Saturday. St. Thomas was victorious over Eureka today 47-8. Berry will learn if they will travel to Minnesota or play at Valhalla tomorrow afternoon.