Vikings come from behind twice to outlast Newberg for a hard-earned victory on homecoming weekend

by: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove junior Cody Smith tries to outrun Newberg's Bryce Schubert (79) during Thursday's Pacific Conference game. The Vikings won 21-14 for their first victory of the season.There was no way the Vikings were going to let this one slip away.

Down twice at home to Newberg, Forest Grove rallied back both times for a dramatic 21-14 victory over the Tigers on Thursday night, securing the team’s first win of the season and doing it in front of a large and appreciative homecoming crowd.

“Late in the game, you could see how bad the kids wanted it. They were really hungry for this win,” Forest Grove head coach Dwight Jensen said. “It was a good feeling to get the monkey off our backs.”

Newberg (1-6, 0-5) went ahead by a touchdown in the first and third quarters, but Forest Grove (1-6, 1-4) responded each time, eventually tying things up on a 1-yard scoring plunge by Gio Tayetto with 7:37 left in the third.

The Vikings took the lead just before the start of the fourth quarter when quarterback Zac Collins hooked up with wideout Adam Schweitzer for a 45-yard touchdown pass.

From there, it was on the defense to keep Newberg out of the end zone. The Tigers drove inside Forest Grove’s 20-yard line late in the fourth quarter, but Collins intercepted a pass in the end zone on the final play of the game, sealing the victory with the Vikings’ seventh takeaway of the game.

“The big thing is that we’re winning the turnover battle,” said Jensen, whose squad had six fumble recoveries and one interception. “(Newberg) came out and they were knifing us early, but our defense stepped up and started forcing some turnovers.”

The Vikings leaned heavily on senior Stephen Izquierdo on both sides of the ball. As a running back, Izquierdo rushed 19 times for 123 yards and also added three receptions, and as a linebacker he had nine tackles and a fumble recovery.

“He’s been a rock on both sides of the ball,” Jensen said. “He was a crucial factor for us.”

Collins sparked the Forest Grove passing game with his best performance of the year, completing 9-of-15 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. The first scoring strike came just before halftime on a 12-yard pass to tight end Lane Gravely, a second-year football player who was making his first career start.

Forest Grove’s youthful team has struggled at times in the rough-and-tumble Pacific Conference, so Jensen was happy not just to see his team win, but also to do it on homecoming.

“Everybody’s fired up for a week of festivities, then to cap it off with a victory was just awesome,” he said. “It’s tough to compete in this league as a young team, but we’ll be better for it down the road.”

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