Cowboys stick a fork in the Vikings

By Adam Jerome, I-O Reporter
Cowboys stick a fork in the Vikings
TEAM INTRO — Number 62, Dallas VanLuchene, a 215 pound sophomore lineman for the Cowboys is introduced just before the start of the Conrad-Bigfork contest on Friday. I-O Photo by Buck Traxler
   The Conrad Cowboys hosted the BigFork Vikings in the home opener, non-conference game last Friday.  Conrad wasted no time in taking control of the game and cruised to a 44-28 victory.
   Head Coach Joe Moerkerke commented on the win, “Obviously any time we get a victory I’m pretty happy.  We wanted to improve our offensive line and I think that’s evident by our rushing yards.  One thing we need to fix is our PAT attempts.  In close games those are something that could come back to haunt us.”
   The Cowboys victory brings the team to a 1-1 record heading into a conference matchup with Cut Bank this Friday.
   For the game the Cowboys moved the ball for 434 total yards on offense, with 304 on the ground and 130 through the air.
   Senior standout quarterback Josiah Moerkerke attributed for most of the offense as he rushed for 86 yards and three touchdowns while passing for 130 with one touchdown.
   Brandon Philipps led the team in rushing with 89 yards and two touchdowns.
   Joe Ries scored a rushing touchdown and Colter Knox caught touchdown.
   The defense played a solid game, giving up 260 yards, mostly in the second half.  The Vikings didn’t get a first down until 20 seconds were left in the first quarter and their first points came on a touchdown with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
   Ries intercepted two passes and Philipps picked off another one.
   Chase Cork recorded a sack for his second of the season.
   Sam Larson led the team in tackles with eight, followed by Knox with seven, and Brett Bishop with six.
   On the special teams side of the ball, Nate Gage made his presence known with three returns over 60 yards as the Cowboys regularly began their drives in enemy territory.  The one trouble spot for the Cowboys was on extra points as they only converted 2 of 7 for the game.
   At the beginning of the game the Cowboys chose to receive and Gage returned the ball back to the Viking 25.  After a big fourth down conversion Ries ran the ball in from the three yard line to take the quick 6-0 lead.  The PAT was no good.
   After consecutive three and outs by both teams, BigFork punted and Gage once again turned in a big return down to the Viking 10.
   J. Moerkerke proceeded to run the ball in from the 10, but the touchdown was negated on a holding penalty.  No matter though, as Moerkerke wouldn’t be denied as he ran the ball in from the 18 for his first touchdown of the game.  Once again the PAT failed and the Cowboys led 12-0.
   After another failed drive, the Vikings punted the ball back to the Conrad 20.  The Conrad drive looked to be all but over, until J. Moerkerke rifled a pass to Gage on 3rd and 12 to keep the drive alive.  J. Moerkerke would later score his second rushing TD of the game on a six yard option play as the Cowboys led 18-0 at the end of the first period.
   The second quarter started off with a bang as Philipps sprung a 54 yard run on a terrific outside block by senior receiver Rhett Orcutt.
   On the next Vikings possession Joe Ries picked off the pass and returned it to the BigFork 25, where J. Moerkerke would score his third rushing touchdown of the day as the Cowboys continued their romp, 31-0.
   The Vikings apparently didn’t want the ball very bad as they threw another interception on the very next drive, this time to Philipps, who would finish what he started with a 10 yard scamper for his second TD of the half.  The score at the break was 37-0 and the game was all but over.
   The Vikings first touchdown came in the third quarter off of a 41 yard run to bring the score to 37-7
   The Cowboys would answer right back.  Gage turned in his third long return of the game to set up J. Moerkerke’s first passing touchdown to Knox on a nifty three yard swing pass.  The score proved to be Conrad’s last as they lead 44-7.
   BigFork wouldn’t give up as a little pride was on the line.  They scored the last three touchdowns of the game to bring the final score to 44-28.
   Next up is another home game as the conference schedule begins against rival Cut Bank.  
   Coach Moerkerke adds, “This is when the real season begins.  The game against Cut Bank is a big one. We haven’t beaten them in awhile so that’s a win we really want to get.  I think our biggest goal is to stop their running game.  We also want to find a nice balance between our running and passing game.”