Vincent makes school history with incredible finish against Luverne

Published 11:16 pm Friday, November 4, 2022

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

VINCENT – With 4:16 remaining and trailing by 13 points after Luverne scored a touchdown to take its largest lead of the game, school history seemed to be slipping away from the Vincent Yellow Jackets on Friday, Nov. 4, before the unthinkable happened.

Following a special regular season that saw Vincent finish 9-1 for just the second time in the school’s history, the Jackets were one win away from their first 10-win season and they weren’t going to let it get away without a fight.

Senior quarterback Blake Allums was one of those ready to step up. Needing two quick scores, he got the offense started on the ensuing drive, taking them 67 yards in 2:10, eventually hitting Zac Carlisle for the first of two big receptions in the final 2:10 of the game.

This one brought the Yellow Jackets to within seven points before a 2-point conversion from Allums to Aiden Poe made it 35-30 with 2:06 to play.

With not enough timeouts left to allow their defense to play out the next drive, the Jackets attempted an onside kick, and that’s when things really seemed to be falling in place.

A perfectly-executed kick was eventually popped out of the hands of a Luverne player, as Nolan Kratz won a battle for the ball to give it back to Vincent.

Now trailing by five, the offense went right back to work. The first heart-attack moment came when Rykelus Robertson converted on fourth-and-1 to keep their hopes alive. Then, one play later, Allums found his guy again, as Carlisle was wide open for a 22-yard touchdown that put Vincent in front 36-35 with 52seconds to play.

The Jackets, however, still needed a defensive stop, something they hadn’t been able to do in the second half.

But it was Luverne’s run game that had been dangerous, and now they were forced to throw. Vincent picked up a sack on the first play of the drive, and Luverne never could recover, eventually facing fourth and 25, which led to a turnover on downs.

A simple kneel down shortly after, and the Yellow Jackets picked up their 10th win for the first time in school history as fans rushed the field and fireworks filled the sky.

“Wanting a win like that here so bad and seeing our fans rush the field and hugging and in tears; t’s a dream come true,” head coach Lucas Weatherford said after the game. “It means something to everyone out here, to everyone in the stands. I mean, you have a guy out there in the highway shooting off fireworks. It’s special. It’s different. There is something special about a small school and something special about this community. I’m proud of our community and everybody. It’s just awesome.”

Weatherford said his team was in a tough spot, but he told them they were going to win and they never stopped believing.

“They had us dead to rights man. Dead to rights,” he said. “We had the ball down there down 35-22. We had a timeout and I said, ‘Look guys, we’re going to score, we’re going to get the 2-point conversion, we’re going to get the onside kick, we’re going to score again and win it. That’s what we did and they believed in each other the whole time.”

Just like the finish, Vincent was able to overcome a slow start in the opening half of the game by scoring 16 unanswered in the second quarter to take a two-point lead into the break that seemingly swung momentum in their favor.

Luverne came out and stunned the Jackets early with 14 points out of the gate.

The Tigers drove down the field in their second drive of the game in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead late in the opening quarter.

Their defense then came out and forced a three-and-out to quickly get the ball back.

On the ensuing drive, it looked as if the Vincent had gotten the ball back to end the first quarter when Easton Fields ripped the ball away from the Luverne ball carrier, but the officials ruled his progress was stopped.

One play later, to open the second quarter, the Tigers reeled off a lengthy run to the end zone to extend their lead to 14-0 with 11:52 left in the half.

Vincent, however, responded in a big way the rest of the quarter.

The Jackets got a massive answer on the next drive, putting together 10 plays in just more than two minutes of game time for a 65-yard drive that was capped off by a 4-yard touchdown run from Robertson on third-and-goal.

Tray Youngblood then hit Carlisle for the 2-point conversion to make it 14-8.

Vincent’s defense then came up with a big stop on the ensuing Luverne drive.

The Jackets did start deep in their own territory after a good punt from the Tigers, but a hot Vincent offense went back on the field against a reeling Luverne defense.

The Yellow Jackets capitalized by putting together a physical 15-play drive that ate up the majority of the quarter.

They converted three third downs and two fourth downs with penalties helping keep the drive alive three different times.

The final fourth-down conversion came on fourth-and-5 from the 21-yard line. Allums hit Youngblood on the run, who then took it the rest of the way, diving for the end zone and touchdown. He then followed by carrying in the 2-point conversion attempt to give Vincent a 16-14 lead at the half.

Luverne, however, turned to the run game in the second half, and Vincent’s defense had no answer for a while aside from the offense keeping pace.

The Tigers scored quickly in the third quarter with a 50-yard drive to regain the lead at 22-16 with 7:57 left in the quarter.

Robertson then put together his biggest play of the game by going 76 yards in one play shortly after, blowing by the defense up the sideline to even the score at 22-22 with 2:24 left in the third.

That’s when the Tigers looked to be wearing down the Jackets with two physical drives to start the fourth quarter that put them in front 35-22.

But Vincent’s senior class and several other leaders stepped up on offense for a big answer, while the team came together in the final minutes to create history.

“Our seniors are just so special. Every week it’s been a different one step up,” Weatherford said. “They pull together, they love on each other and they lean on each other. Tonight, when things started going south, they were picking each other up and stepping up. It’s the whole team.”

Weatherford added that this win was one that changes the future for the program.

“Regardless of what happens the rest of the season, this is program defining for this place. It’s special,” he said. “This is what we’ve been trying to get to. Things don’t happen overnight. It’s a process, people have to work. It’s a lot of work that goes into it. These seniors were eighth graders when I came in. They’ve seen it. They changed it. It wasn’t something I did, they did it. This isn’t the end, this is just the start. It needs to be like this from now on. We’ve finally changed the mindset.”

And that was shown as former players joined this year’s team for a picture together in celebration of the historic moment.

“I told them they were a part of this,” Weatherford said. “They helped build this too. It took a lot of people, it took some great people in this community, some great parents, great administration to believe in it, and here we are.”

Vincent will now travel to Clarke County next week to take on the defending Class 2A champs with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line.