The Northgate Vikings punched their ticket to the playoffs with a dramatic 21-20 victory over visiting Langston Hughes on Friday night.
With the win, Northgate secured at least the No. 4 seed out of Region 5-AAAAAA.
Northgate scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win the game.
The Vikings took advantage of a muffed punt by Langston Hughes late in the game to setup their final touchdown with 2:24 left in the contest.
After the Langston Hughes punter dropped the ball, Northgate took over at the Panthers’ five-yard line.
Northgate lost yardage on its first three plays, but on fourth down, senior quarterback Kyle McLaren connected with Devontae Johnson in the corner of the end zone for the 14-yard touchdown. Kade Loggins then split the uprights on the extra point to give the Vikings a one-point lead.
Langston Hughes built a 7-0 lead at the half and extended to 13-0 in second half.
However thanks to some fourth-quarter fireworks, the Vikings kept the game close.
Kyle McLaren scored the Vikings first touchdown of the game with 11:53 left in the contest when he rolled to his right and then scampered into the end zone on a 10-yard run.
The Panthers scored on their next drive to go up 20-7 with 8:07 left, but the Vikings weren’t through.
On the next series, Northgate marched 70-yards for the score. McLaren connected with Connor Fortner and Robert Given on a couple of key passes to keep the drive moving. McLaren then cut the lead to 20-14 on a 1-yard run with 5:21 left.
The Vikings defense then rose to the occasion on the next drive stopping Langston Hughes on three plays
A mishandled snap on the punt, led to the Vikings game-winning touchdown.
Northgate received the opening kick to start the game and moved the ball deep into Langston Hughes territory with a couple of long runs by McLaren and Nick Carter. McLaren also hit Gerald Harris also two long passes, but the series ended when Langston Hughes stopped Northgate on fourth down.
Langston Hughes scored the first touchdown of the game on its first series for the only points of the first half.
The Panthers increased the lead to 13-0 when it marched 68 yards on four plays to open the second half.
However, instead of throwing the knockout punch and putting the game away, Northgate took advantage of some Langston Hughes mistakes.
With 11:53 left in the the game, Northgate scored the first of its three touchdowns when McLaren scored on a quarterback keeper to cut the lead to 13-7.
Langston Hughes increased the lead to 20-14 with a touchdown on its next drive. Northgate cut the lead to 20-14 when McLaren scored on a 1-yard.
Northgate forced Langston Hughes to punt from deep in its own territory after playing some of its best defense of the night.
The muffed punt hit the ground and the punter was unable to pick it up, instead falling on it and giving the Vikings great field possession to start the game-winning drive.
Northgate is headed back to the playoffs for the third year in a row.