Vikings force five turnovers to stay undefeated at home


Aaron Tolentino

Cornerback Dieonte Malan lines up in the secondary. Malan is a part of a secondary that had four interceptions in a game against De Anza at Viking Stadium in Pleasant Hill on October 20, 2017.

Aaron Tolentino, Sports Reporter

The Vikings stayed undefeated at home (3-0) by defeating De Anza College with a final score of 27-13 on Friday.

Head coach Mike Darr was aggressive early by going for a fourth down conversion in each of the Vikings’ first two drives, with the latter attempt leading to the Vikings taking the early 7-0 lead and never looking back.

However, the Vikings’ offense overall did not seem to have its most fluid nor rhythmic performance Friday. Quarterback Matt Vitale had a gutsy performance with three total touchdowns, including a rushing touchdown, but did have one turnover.

“A win is a win, all I care about is winning,” said Vitale. “The pick was frustrating because I absolutely hate throwing interceptions.”

Running backs Miles Harrison, Gabriel Watson and Kendall McNeil stood out among offensive performers by combining for 233 total rushing yards.

Watson had two key touchdowns for the Vikings, one rushing and one receiving.

“It feels great anytime I’m able to contribute for the team,” said Watson. “I’m happy to do it: catching the ball, running the ball, blocking, anything. Feels good to pitch in a little more than usual.”

However, the story of the night was the Vikings’ defense that forced five turnovers, four interceptions and one fumble.

“We’re playing as a team,” said defensive back Antwuin Prowes, who had one of those four interceptions. “Our DBs kept good coverage and we did what we had to do.”

This defense was fresh off giving up 59 points last week, but responded by holding De Anza to 13 points, but most notably forcing five turnovers.

“Really proud of how they bounced back after a tough loss last week,” said Darr. “Secondary, with the four picks, played really well. We were able to finish some of the things that we’ve been working on.”

Once again, the Vikings proved they are a resilient bunch.

It’s easy to lose by 52 points the last time out and let doubt take over a locker room, but the Vikings refused to let that happen.

“Especially from last week, after we got beat badly, answer back and forget about everything is a testament to our team and coaches just telling us keep our heads up, have a positive vibe throughout practice,” said Vitale. “We knew we were gonna win.”

Dealing with injuries on both sides of the ball, the Vikings needed to rally as a team to adopt the “next man up” mentality. Players were required to step out of their comfort zone, most notably Tuineau Pulu on defense.

“I gotta thank the coaches first, just thank my teammates for teaching me because I’m new to the D-line so it’s a team effort, it’s not just me,” said Pulu, who has moved around playing defensive back, linebacker and some defensive line.

The 4-3 Vikings look to come together again as one unit next Friday against Santa Rosa College and remain undefeated at home.

“I just gotta give it to my teammates, they scout me all practice,” said Pulu. “I’m just thankful for this team.”