DVC football responds after tough loss with a last second thriller


Mike Stehlik

Quarterback Matt Vitale rolls to his right to throw game-winning touchdown at Viking Stadium in Pleasant Hill, California, on Friday, September 8, 2017.

Aaron Tolentino and Mike Stehlik

The Vikings bounced back from their ugly loss last week with a thrilling 26-23 come-from-behind victory against Chabot College Friday.

The Vikings went off to an early 6-0 lead in their first possession of the game. However, Chabot took control for most of the game up until late in the third quarter, scoring 14 unanswered points.

The fourth quarter was a different story with four lead changes among the two teams. Chabot seemed to ice the game with a late touchdown drive with 1:46 left to put them up 23-18.

However, with time against their side and a limited amount of timeouts, coach Darr and quarterback Matt Vitale needed to lead a nearly flawless execution of time management to march 80 yards and win the game.

The two did just that.

“I just kept it cool, believed in my teammates, believed in myself, and made it happen,” said Vitale who threw for a game-high of four touchdown passes.

Darr was highly impressed of his quarterback’s composure, alluding to the team comparing Vitale’s cool to 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan, whose nickname is ‘Matty Ice.’

“Well a lot of our guys are stealing stuff from the media, calling him ‘Matty Ice,’ but he earned that at the end,” said Darr. “‘He was calm, you look at him in the eye and looked at me saying “coach I got this.”‘

Obviously, in such a team sport like football, one player could not have done it by himself. The key was not just the heroics of Vitale and the offense; it was truly a whole team effort that required big contributions from the defense and special teams.

“We had some pretty good balance,” said Darr. “We had guys who could get it done in all phases of the game.”

The extra fire and toughness the Vikings displayed Friday was lingering from the bitter loss last week against American River College.

“When you lose 67-0, you feel some type of way,” said left tackle Jason Dickson. “You want to smack the [opponent] in the next game.”

Earlier in the week, Darr was eager to inspire his team on how last week’s loss could be used as motivation for the next game.

“One of the things we were talking about is the truest test of character,” said Darr. “‘You can look at the film and come up with excuses or you can look at the film and say, “I don’t want that to happen again.”‘

The Vikings displayed resilency and character in how they responded from last week’s loss that goes beyond football. Their character was tested because it would have been easier to give up once Chabot seemed to end the game with their final touchdown with over a minute left, but the Vikings simply refused to quit.

The Vikings displayed the quintessential example of what it means to bounce back from adversity. With last week’s 67-0 loss, there could not have been more of a dire situation to be in, but the Vikings refused to let that situation carry on to the next game.

“I love this group of guys,” said Dickson on the team’s resiliency. “All the adversity we face, ain’t nothing like it.”