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John Steiner/The Sun The University of Jamestown’s Chris Johnson splits Valley City State’s Mychael Bruce (18) and Darius Graves (40) on Thursday night in Valley City.

Seized! Valley City State takes back Paint Bucket with victory over Jimmies

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Seized! Valley City State takes back Paint Bucket with victory over Jimmies
Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

VALLEY CITY — Valley City State sophomore quarterback Kurtis Walls summed it up best after Thursday night’s impressive season-opening win over rival University of Jamestown.

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“We wanted that damn Bucket back,” said Walls after throwing for 365 yards and four touchdowns. “That was at the forefront of our minds after we lost (the Bucket) last year. Through workouts in the summer and in fall camp it was a major motivator for us.

“We got it back and it feels really good.”

The Vikings sprinted to the Jimmie sideline in unison after their convincing, and surprising, 31-7 win over their primary rivals to reclaim the Paint Bucket, the trophy the two teams play for.

“This game can be humbling sometimes. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for sure,” UJ head coach Shawn Frank said. “We didn’t expect this. I really like the way we prepared, but the bottom line is they made a lot more plays than we did tonight.”

Valley City State head coach Dennis McCulloch had similar feelings. He too was pleased with his team’s fall camp, but didn’t expect to lead 21-0 at halftime, 28-0 after three and hold the Jimmies to 224 yards of offense.

“All the credit goes to our kids and our coaching staff. We didn’t see this coming, but our kids did a really good job of executing the plan,” McCulloch said. “It’s just the first game of the season, and we’ll see them again and they’ll be hungry as dogs, but for us we’re really proud of how our kids played tonight.”

Walls, a second-year starter, who dropped weight in the offseason for a sleeker and leaner frame, was sharp in the pocket.

He completed 28 of 40 passes and was money on third down. His first scoring strike, which covered 37 yards to Zach Johnson, came on a third-and-11 play.

“It starts with the O-Line. They did a great job because we know our receivers are hard to cover,” Walls said. “If I get them the ball, they can make it happen.”

Antoine Griffin proved elusive all night for the Jimmie secondary, including on a blown coverage on a first-down play where Walls found Griffin wide open in the middle of the field for a 59-yard scoring strike on the first play of the drive.

“We had some mistakes on the back end that hurt. That was clear for everyone to see and that’s something we have to get cleaned up,” Frank said. “It was a combination of we couldn’t get off the field on third down, and couldn’t keep the ball on third down when we had it. Those two things work hand-in-hand and that was an area we really struggled.”

The Jimmies punted four times in the first half. Their best drive was the first of the game. After a long kickoff return by Chris Johnson, then a 30-yard run by Johnson, they drove inside the VCSU 40-yard line, but stalled.

“You look at some of the players they have and it’s a tough deal to bottle them up, but coach (Gregg) Horner always develops a good plan, a good defense and they were very effective tonight,” McCulloch said.

Keith Rogers’ interception stunted the Vikings’ next drive deep in Jimmie territory, but after another short series by the Jimmie offense, VCSU had some good fortune.

Inside the UJ 20-yard line again, Walls’ pass was deflected into the air only to land right into the hands of Johnson in stride for a 12-yard touchdown and 21-0 Valley City State lead less than 2 minutes before halftime.

“Sometimes you get breaks and things go your way,” Walls said. “But the main thing for us was our preparation. This is just the first game of the season, we understand that, but this was a big deal for us. We wanted this one pretty bad.”

The Jimmies got on the board in the fourth quarter when quarterback Beau Eriksson found wide receiver Dezmund Pettigrew open in the end zone for an eight-yard scoring strike on fourth down. But it was a rough night otherwise offensively for the Jimmies.

The defense did create two turnovers. Linebacker Jared Mack had a third-quarter interception and a team-best 10 tackles.

Frank was honest in his assessment of the outcome, but ready to turn the page.

“There are no excuses to be made. We didn’t play well and they did,” he said. “I believe in what we’re doing. This wasn’t the start we wanted. We can’t cry about it or dwell on it, we have to learn from it and most importantly we have to get better.”

It gets no easier next week for the Jimmies as they host the Concordia Cobbers, who went 8-2 last season in the MIAC, one of the top leagues in NCAA Division III.

The Vikings have a stiff test as well, hosting NAIA power Morningside, ranked third nationally.

Valley City State 31,

University of Jamestown 7

Jamestown 0 0 0 7 — 7

Valley City State 7 14 7 3 — 31

Scoring

VCSU: Kurtis Walls 36 yard pass to Zach Johnson, 03:16 (Thomas Cortes kick)

VCSU: Walls 58 pass to Antoine Griffin, 06:59 (Cortes kick)

VCSU: Walls 12 pass to Johnson, 01:54 (Cortes kick).

VCSU: Walls 11 pass to Griffin, 09:46 (Cortes kick).

VCSU: Cortes 37 yard field goal, 11:54.

UJ: Beau Eriksson 8 pass to Dezmund Pettigrew, 06:26 (Grant Linde kick)

Team Statistics

VCSU UJ

FIRST DOWN 24 10

RUSHES / YARDS (NET) 30-89 26-91

PASSING YARDS (NET) 365 121

Passes Att/Comp/Int 40/28/2 24/11/2

OFFENSE PLAYS/YARDS 79/454 50 / 212

Fumble Returns / Yards 0-0 0 / 0

Punt Returns / Yards 0 / 0 0 / 0

Kickoff Returns / Yards 2 / 22 6 / 150

Interception Returns /Yards 2 / 14 2 / 25

Punts (Number/Avg) 2 / 49 5 / 39

Fumbles / Lost 0 / 0 0 / 0

Penalties / Yards 4 / 30 7 / 61

Possession Time 37:23 21:55

Sacks By: Number/Yards 2 / 7 0 / 0

Individual Statistics

RUSHING: UJ, Chris Johnson 13-70; Beau Eriksson 10-12; Charlie Heck 2-7; Michael Sena 1-2. VCSU, Trevor Goerts 18-46; Ian Keller 18-31; Kurtis Walls 2-6; Antoine Griffin 1-6.

PASSING: UJ, Eriksson 11 for 24, 121 yards, 2 INTS, 1 TD. VSCU, Kurtis Walls 28 for 40, 365 yards, 2 INTS, 4 TDs.

RECEIVING: UJ, Michael Sena 3-36; Alex Johnson 3-27; Branden Edwards 3-27; 2-10. VCSU, Antoine Griffin 10-158, Zach Johnson 7-111; Jake Miller 6-50; Demondre Boler 4-38.

TACKLES: UJ, Jared Mack 10, Garrett Tenney 9, Jarelle Miller 9, Wes Worthen 8. VCSU, Nick McBeain 8, Ethen Preston 7, Ben Bruenjes 6, Pathen Asuncion 6.

Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701)

952-8460 or by e-mail at dselvig@jamestownsun.com

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Dave Selvig
Selvig has been a sports writer at The Sun since 1999 and sports editor since 2009.
(701) 952-8460
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