Marshall, Mo. (September 27, 2014)- The No. 11 Missouri Valley College football team made its first road-trip of the season Saturday to Atchison, Kan., for a Heart of America Athletic Conference matchup with No. 14 Benedictine College.  The Vikings held a 22-point lead midway through the third quarter, but hung on for a 29-22 win. The victory gives Head Coach Paul Troth win No. 100 at Missouri Valley.

Disaster nearly struck for Missouri Valley in the opening minutes of the game.  After forcing a Ravens punt on the game’s opening drive, the Vikings began their first possession at their own 11-yard line.  The first play resulted in a seven yard loss putting MVC at its own four-yard line.  On second down a play for Senior Quarterback Bruce Reyes (Beaumont, Texas) ended in a fumble that was recovered by Benedictine at the Viking 12-yard line.  Backed up against its own endzone, the MVC defense dug in and forced a fourth-and-one on its own three-yard line.  Benedictine went for the first down, but were stuffed on a rushing attempt by Junior Linebacker Roy Hale (Riverside, Calif.) and Sophomore Defensive Back Stefen Seals (Bridgeton, Mo.) for no gain, giving MVC the ball.  The Vikings were unable to move the ball, but did get a 43-yard punt by Senior Punter Jason Mayden (Carrollton, Mo.) that had Benedictine start its next drive from midfield.

The Vikings forced a Ravens punt on the drive and were pinned again deep inside their own territory, this time at the four-yard line.  However, the Viking offense put together an impressive drive getting three Reyes pass completions to move the ball out to the 27-yard line, then getting a 24-yard run by Sophomore Running Back Malachi Daniels (Branson, Mo.) that put the ball in Ravens territory.  After the end of the first quarter, MVC had the ball inside the Benedictine 10-yard line and finished off a 12-play 96-yard drive with Daniels three-yard touchdown run.  The extra point was blocked, but MVC led 6-0 seconds into the second quarter.

The MVC defense forced Benedictine to punt after just three plays on its next possession, but the Vikings were unable to add to their lead.  Both teams struggled to move the ball through much of the second quarter, trading punts until late in the quarter when MVC got a 54-yard punt return from Senior Wide Receiver Jarrell Davis (Merced, Calif.) that put the ball at the Ravens 30-yard line.  The Vikings ran off five plays and finished off the drive with a two-yard Daniels touchdown run to put MVC up 13-0 with 44-seconds to play in the half.  Benedictine tried to put together a late first half drive to put points on the board, passing on four-straight plays.  However, the fourth pass attempt was picked off by Viking Sophomore Linebacker Ricky Williams (Florida City, Fla.) and returned it 73-yards for a touchdown as time expired in the first half, giving MVC a 19-0 lead at the break.

Missouri Valley received the opening kickoff to begin the second half and began to put together a drive.  The Vikings faced a third-and-12 situation near midfield and were able to convert the first down when Reyes hit Junior Wide Receiver Mikquel Johnson (St. Louis, Mo.) for a 14-yard gain, followed by a Reyes completion to Freshman Wide Receiver Dorian Stanard (Palm Coast, Fla.) for 19-yards that put MVC at the Raven 12-yard line.  However, the Benedictine defense stopped the Vikings and forced a 25-yard field goal from Senior Kicker Daniel Mouro (Hilmar, Calif.) which increased the lead to 22-0 with just under nine minutes to play in the third quarter.

Benedictine responded to the Viking drive with a long-scoring drive of its own.  The Ravens ran off a 15-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a touchdown and cut the Viking lead to 22-7 late in the third quarter.  After forcing MVC to punt after only three plays, the Ravens put together another long drive that ended in a touchdown.  This time Benedictine capped off a 10-play 87-yard drive with a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to cut the Viking lead to 22-15.

The ensuing Viking drive ended with a punt, but the Ravens turned the ball over just three plays later.  Senior Defensive Back Michael Barnes (Beaumont, Texas) made his first interception of the season, giving MVC the ball at the Ravens’ 30-yard line.  Despite the good field position the Vikings were unable to put more points on the board as Daniels fumbled inside the Benedictine 25-yard line, which was recovered by the Ravens.  However, Benedictine gave the ball right back to Missouri Valley asFreshman Defensive Back Johnathan Battle (Bartow, Fla.) came up with an interception, and the Vikings had the ball at the Benedictine 22-yard line.

A penalty following the interception moved the ball back to the Raven 37-yard line, but MVC wasted little time finding the endzone as four-straight Junior Running Back Elliott Hawkins (Spiro, Okla.) rushing attempts put the ball at the Benedictine 13-yard line.  The fifth play of the drive was a Daniels 13-yard touchdown run to put MVC up 29-15 with just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens were not done moving the ball yet, as Benedictine marched down the field, running off 10-plays and capped off a 75-yard drive with a touchdown with only 47-second remaining in regulation.  The Ravens attempted an onside kick, but Johnson recovered for MVC at midfield.  However, Benedictine still had all three timeouts, meaning the Vikings needed to get a first down in order to run out the clock.  Facing a third-and-six, Reyes was able to pick up just enough for a first down and secure the 29-22 win for Missouri Valley.

Leading the Viking offense was Reyes who finished 19 of 22 passing for 174 yards while also gaining 10 yards rushing.  Daniels finished with 19 carries for 105 yards and three touchdowns.  This was Daniels’ second game of reaching 100 or more yards rushing in his career and the three touchdowns were a career-high.  Davis added seven catches for 38 yards while Johnson made four catches for 45 yards.    Offensively the Vikings finished with 172 rushing yards and 182 passing yards for 354 total yards.

On defense, Barnes led MVC with nine total tackles with one interception.  Sophomore Defensive Back Christian Walker (Kansas City, Mo.) added eight tackles and a tackle for loss while Battle and Williams each had an interception.  Freshman Linebacker Jacob King (Blue Springs, Mo.) finished with seven tackles and one sack and Senior Defensive Lineman Ty Phillips (East St. Louis, Ill.) had three tackles and one sack.  The Vikings gave up 352 total yards in the game.

On special teams, Mayden finished with five punts for an average of 43.2 yards with one landing inside the 20-yard line and a long of 53 yards.  Mouro made his only field goal attempt of the game and was two for three on extra points.  Davis had 54 total return yards, and 92 all-purpose yards, while Christian had 46 kick return yards.

The win also gave Missouri Valley Head Coach Paul Troth win No. 100 leading the Viking football program.  He becomes the third Viking head coach to surpass the 100-win total at Missouri Valley, joining Volney C. Ashford (197 wins) and Ken Gibler (162 wins).  Troth is now 100-38 in his career at Missouri Valley and is 138-56 in his head coaching career.

The win improves MVC to 2-1 overall and 2-0 in HAAC play.  Benedictine falls to 2-2 overall and 1-1.

The Vikings will return home for another HAAC matchup next week.  MVC will host Avila (Mo.) University at Gregg-Mitchell Field Oct. 4 at 1:30 p.m.