Marcus Larson/News-Register##
Odin Thorson heads for the end zone with an interception early in the first quarter to give McMinnville a 7-0 lead.
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Odin Thorson heads for the end zone with an interception early in the first quarter to give McMinnville a 7-0 lead.
By Rusty Rae • Sport Editor • 

Grizzlies flip switch in fourth quarter, gut out 21-14 win over Vikings

FOREST GROVE -- McMinnville's Grizzly football team (5-3, 4-3 GVC) played dead for  nearly three quarters against the Forest Grove Vikings (1-7, 1-6 GVC), rallying for two scores in the second half to earn a 21-14 victory and keep their playoff hopes alive.

While there were number of star performers in the game, two who earned game balls are wide receiver/ cornerback Odin Thorson, and running back/linebacker Ray Jacob, without whom the Grizzlies likely would have lost this contest.

Thorson snatched a tipped pass on the second play of the game and wove his way through a bevy of Viking players for a 62-yard score on the interception.

The Grizzlies had a number of other chances to score in the first half, but shot themselves in the proverbial foot with a variety of miscues and penalties.

Early on Colton Smith was not on his game, dropping a number of passes, including one in the end zone. Late in the first period Mac QB Sam DuPuis found Parker Spence for a score, but it was called back on an ineligible receiver down field. 

The Grizzlies had a pair of field goals blocked by the Vikings in the first half, and also dodged a bullet in the when a Forest Grove 43-yard TD-run was called back on a holding penalty. The first half ended with McMinnville holding a 7-0 lead.

Forest Grove appeared to seize momentum in the second half. McMinnville received the opening kickoff, but the Vikings, playing before a packed homecoming crowd on senior night, intercepted a DuPuis pass, driving 80-yards to tie the score. The Vikings pushed the Grizzlies all over the field on this drive, and finally sprung their outstanding running back, Drake Littlefield on a 43-yard counter play for the score to knot the game at seven at the 7:02 mark of the third quarter.

The Forest Grove score to tie the game seemed to ignite the Grizzlies. The Vikings tried an onside kick that did not go far enough, and the Grizzlies took over on the Viking 49.

After a six-yard pass to Smith, Thorson broke lose for 18 yards on an inside sweep to the Forest Grove 27. After a two-yard Jacob run, the Grizzlies turned Thorson lose again. This time, just when it appeared he was boxed in, the senior wide out cut on a dime, slicing through the Viking defense for seven yard gain. The Grizzlies had a third and less than one when they were called for illegal procedure. 

Dupuis and Smith finally hooked on a 22-yard fade route with 4:28 left in the third and the Grizzlies led 14-7.

With the game becoming chippy, Forest Grove found new life when Littlefield returned the kickoff to the 50-yard line. Littlefield was a one-man show for the Vikings as he scored at the 11:56 mark of the fourth quarter on a three-yard blast. He had carried the ball for the Vikings on nine of the 11 plays of the drive.

But the Grizzlies revived themselves with the Forest Grove challenge. After being forced to punt at the 10:58 mark the Grizzlies defense stiffened.  Forest Grove moved the ball from their 13 to the 25. On a third and five from the 24 they sprung Littlefield for a first down on a screen, but the play was called back for holding. Forest Grove came back with another screen as the Grizzlies pursuit was devastating. However, Noah Spencer nailed the receiver short of the first down, and the Vikings were forced to punt. Mac took over on its 45-yard line.

Forest Grove attempted to counter the Grizzly passing attack by double-teaming Smith; however, that left Thorson in single coverage and DuPuis hit the speedster for a 20-yard gain. McMinnville worked the ball down the field, as DuPuis again hit Smith, this time for six yards. On a fourth-and-two from the 15, the Grizzlies went to Thorson on a toss-sweep, looking for the first down. Thorson shredded the Viking defense for all 15-yards and the go-ahead and winning score, at the 4:49 mark of the fourth.

Forest Grove had one more chance to tie the contest -- even take the lead on a two-point conversion. But McMinnville's defense blunted the Viking advance. The Grizzlies stopped a Viking drive, at the 3:03 mark. McMinnville stopped Littlefield on a fourth and one six inches short of a first down.

McMinnville only needed to run out the clock and Jacob and Thorson were key. At the 2:34 mark, on a third-and-10 play, the Grizzlies pitched to Thorson on a sweek, he made two brilliant cuts for a 16-yard run to keep the drive alive. McMinnville then turned Jacob loose. He was stopped for less than one yard, then rumbled for eight yards.

Facing a third-and-one from the 21, the Vikings loaded the box, waiting for Mr. Jacob. They thought that had him stopped, but Ray had other ideas, stiff-arming one defender and them bruising his way for 11-yards and first down. From there the Grizzlies ran out the clock.

McMinnville finish its regular season next week on the road at West Albany. Game time is 7 p.m.

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