Vikings fight but fall prey to Hawks

The North Branch defense put up a valiant fight against Hermantown. Photo by Victoria Dahlin

The North Branch defense put up a valiant fight against Hermantown. Photo by Victoria Dahlin

The football season ended for North Branch last week, when a section victory against Grand Rapids was followed by a tough loss to top seeded Hermantown in the Section 7AAAA semifinal.

On Oct. 23, the No. 4 section seeded Vikings hosted the No. 5 seed Lumberjacks in the section quarterfinal.

Grand Rapids scored first, but North Branch tied it up with a touchdown by Zack Sundly and extra point kicked by Logan Klatt to end the half at 7-7.

The Lumberjacks came back, making it 13-7 going into the fourth quarter, but the undaunted Vikings answered back with three touchdowns by Rance Ashley and extra points by Klatt to earn a 27-13 win and ticket to Hermantown for the section semifinal.

A large crowd of Viking fans, including many dressed in blaze orange and red, made the long, cold trip to Hermantown to cheer on their team. Photo by Victoria Dahlin

A large crowd of Viking fans, including many dressed in blaze orange and red, made the long, cold trip to Hermantown to cheer on their team. Photo by Victoria Dahlin

On Saturday, a large crowd of Viking fans joined the team in taking the long, cold trip north. The crowd was enthusiastic and the Vikings put up a valiant fight, but the Hawks prevailed in the end.

A win looked promising when North Branch scored first, with a touchdown by Tony Denn off a Sundly pass. Even when Hermantown fought back to go ahead 15-6, hope was kept when Ashley scored a touchdown with a two point conversion to make the score 15-14.

Then the Hawks took over, ending the half with a 29-14 lead.

Refusing to give up, North Branch kept Hermantown from scoring in the third quarter. But finally, the Hawks wore the Vikings down.

In the fourth quarter Hermantown scored twice, while North Branch scored only once when Sundly ran in for a touchdown and two-point conversion.

The Vikings team and its blaze orange and red attired faithful fans were sent home with a 44-22 season ending loss.

Sundly led the team with 122 yards rushing, while North Branch had 243 total offensive yards.

“It was an outstanding year for the football program finishing with a 4-6 record,” said coach Nick Nitti. “Thank you for all of your support.”

The North Branch football team ended the 2012 season tied for fifth place in the North Suburban Conference with a 3-4 conference and a 4-6 overall record.

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