Valley City, ND - The Hastings College football team opened up a big lead and then had to hold on late against Valley City State escaping with the 35-32 victory on Saturday afternoon.
Many would call it a dream start for the Broncos and Jordan Johnson (SO/Spring Valley, CA) as he and Jason Gaines (SR/Papillion, NE) hooked up from 17 yards out just five plays into the game as Hastings took an early 7-0 lead.
Valley City State would have an answer late in the first quarter on a six yard touchdown run by Jacob Duilio but the extra point would be missed so HC held on to the 7-6 lead heading to the second quarter.
Just two plays into the second quarter, Gaines would find Johnson again, this time from 58 yards out to give Hastings the 14-6 lead.
Almost six minutes later, Cruz Samaniego's (SO/San Diego, CA) pass would get tipped by a linebacker and right into the hads of Johnson for a 23 yard touchdown to give Hastings the 21-6 lead. This would tie the school record for touchdown receptions in a game (3) tying the great Marc Boerigter as he set the record back in 1999.
With the defense continuing to hold the Vikings in check, Hastings would once again strike quickly as Anthony Cloyd (JR/Omaha, NE) would break into the secondary and go 35 yards for the touchdown and the 28-6 lead with just under 6:00 to play in the first half.
Each team would trade touchdowns in the third quarter including Tahj Willingham (SO/Greenwood Village, CO) going 31 yards for a score as Hastings held a 35-12 lead going into the fourth quarter. But this is where the game would begin to turn.
Momentum began to change in the fourth quarter when Gaines attempted a backwards pass that would be recovered by VCSU's Ben Bruenjes as he took it down to the Bronco four yard line. From there it would only take one play to score and with the missed two-point conversion, Hastings now led 35-18 with 13:48 to go.
On the Broncos ensuing possession, a turnover would once again comeback to haunt Hastings as Gaines would find Glenn Wallace (SR/Strasburg, CO) for a potential first down but he would fumble and the Vikings would recover at the Bronco 48-yard line.
VCSU would march inside the Hastings 10-yard line and would face 4th-and-goal from the nine yard line. DJ Edwards would break free at the goal line and QB Kurtis Walls would find him for the touchdown and with the extra point, Hastings now led 35-25 with 8:48 to go.
Following a Bronco three-and-out, Brandon Bachle (SR/Grand Island, NE) would pin VCSU inside its own 10-yard line where the Vikings would have to go 92-yards to get to within one score.
But following big pass plays of 40 and 48 yards, Valley City State would be down at the Bronco four yard line and two plays later would score to make it 35-32 with 6:27 remaining.
Hastings would go three-and-out once again but Bachle pinned the Vikings inside its own 20-yard line but this time the Hastings defense would not allow VCSU to do any more damage forcing a punt.
The Hastings offense would run the clock out and hold on for the big non-conference victory.
Johnson's big day receiving consisted of five catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns. He now has five receiving touchdowns on the year.
Kelly McBride (SR/Austin, TX) and Nathan Howe (SO/Kearney, NE) led the defense with 11 tackles each. Austin Rowlett (JR/Lincoln, NE) and Wesley Jardim (JR/Waco, NE) each finished with an interception.
Willingham led the ground attach with 85 yards on 15 carries and a score.
The Broncos improve to 2-0 and will be back in action Saturday Sept. 17 as Jamestown (ND) comes to town with kick-off set for 1:00 p.m. at Lloyd Wilson Field.