Berry's Jake Bretz

Berry’s Jake Bretz (right) tumbles into the end zone after catching a touchdown pass from quarterback Gavin Gray during the first quarter of Saturday’s game.

It took 30 minutes for the Berry Vikings to look more like themselves.

Coming off their fifth straight conference championship in a shortened 2021 spring season, the No. 8-ranked Berry College Vikings began the new fall season rallying from a halftime deficit by using a strong second half performance to defeat non-conference foe Maryville 20-14 Saturday night at Valhalla Stadium.

The first quarter started out slow offensively for both teams, until Kristofer Hawkins recovered a fumble to give the Vikings a hint of momentum at the midway mark of the opening quarter. Less than a minute later, Gavin Gray found Jake Bretz for a 23-yard touchdown giving the first lead of the game.

But the Scotts soon answered with quarterback Nelson Smith hit Mykel Santos for a 16-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. With less than two minutes to go in the first quarter, Berry punter Matthew Syverson lost the handle on a snap that was taken advantage of by the Scotts and gave the visitors the ball on Berry’s 5. The Scotts cashed in when Smith took it into the end zone on a 5-yardtouchdown giving Maryville the 14-7 lead that held at the half.

When the second half began, the Vikings’ special teams quickly set the tone with a blocked punt by Kristofer Thomas, setting up Berry at the Maryville 15 and with 10:05 left in the period freshman running back Brandon Cade scored his first touchdown as a Viking from four-yeards out and Syverson’s extra point tied the game.

The Viking defense then stepped up and shut the Scots down the rest of the way, and with 4:18 remaining in the third period Syverson gave Berry the lead when he connected on a 33-yard field goal.

Syverson closed out the scoring with 10:09 left in the game splitting the uprights again, this time from 28 yards out.

Brock Skinner headed up the Viking defense seven tackles and two sacks and Elohim Hull added five tackles, while Berry’s pass rush compiled an impressive seven sacks.

Offensively, Gray completed 14 of 23 passes for 158 yards and one touchdown, while Cade rushed for 66 yards and the touchdown.

The Vikings hit the road next Saturday for another non-conference clash facing LaGrange College.

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