Shilo Morgan can make a coach and a quarterback go deep into the playbook – if only for characterizations.
“He’s a slick bowling ball,” offered Coeur d’Alene coach Shawn Amos.
“He’s the round mound of … yardage,” was quarterback Kale Edwards’ best stab. “He’s like a Weeble.”
Nowhere in either of those descriptions will you find “elusive.” But the 5-foot-9, 215-pound senior running back was that, too, in the Vikings’ 47-34 football win over Mead on the red turf at Roos Field in Cheney on Friday night.
Certainly the Panthers were rarely able to corral him – Morgan running for 161 yards and scoring three touchdowns, two on passes from Edwards, as the Vikings ran their record to 3-0.
And they needed every one of them, once Friday’s shutout turned into a shootout.
That’s right – this one was a whitewash in the making, the Vikings taking a 20-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. Then it turned into pinball – at least once the Panthers (1-1) put backup quarterback Ryan Blair at the flippers and found a way to uncork speedy receiver Michael Workman.
His 77-yard touchdown catch on Mead’s third offensive play of the second half changed the game’s dynamic – and surely made the Panthers wish they hadn’t sputtered so helplessly the first two quarters.
“I don’t think anything really hampered us,” Workman said, “but we were kind of low on energy. We felt a little flat. But once we got some momentum, we made a ballgame out of it.”
It was almost more interesting than the score suggested.
Workman had torched the Vikings’ secondary for 231 yards on seven catches – all after halftime – when the Panthers recovered an onside kick with 2:20 play. Two plays later, Workman again burst past his defenders and underneath a pretty ball by Blair – only to have it bounce off his hands in the end zone.
“I’d like that one back,” he said. “Your eyes get pretty big when you’re open like that. Just one of those plays.”
Still, the Panthers had to be pleased just to be in the position for such regrets.
Just how tough the Vikings are to contain was evident on their third play – a third-and-10 jam that Edwards and receiver Chase Dixon turned into a momentum changer with a 33-yard gain. The quarterback scored two of the Vikings’ first-half touchdowns on short runs, and found Morgan uncovered in the right flat for 23 yards on the other.
Morgan put on even more of a show after halftime – a 33-yard burst up the middle after a Mead fumble, a 41-yarder early in the fourth quarter and, maybe most startling, a jump-ball catch of a Edwards pass for the Vikings’ final touchdown.
“Our backs can catch the ball and it’s nice to get him out of the backfield,” Amos said. “He’s got good hands and he’s just a good football player. He’s a load.”
But the Vikings have lots of other weapons. Colby Nosworthy had another big momentum play when he broke off a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown, and kicker Gabe Nazemi lasered a couple of field goals – one a 49-yarder that just cleared the crossbar, then caromed off the support.
They needed all of them to answer Mead’s resiliency – and Blair’s 246 yards of second-half passing, which will require the Panthers’ staff to make some decisions. Starting quarterback Ryan Chan ripped off some rugged runs in the first half but couldn’t get Mead into the end zone.
“I’ve done it in the past,” Mead coach Benji Sonnichsen said about the two-quarterback attack. “One year I played three. We saw the production Blair gave us in the second half – but obviously a guy like Chan we need to get on field because he’s so athletic.”