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North Salem finishes second in inaugural Columbia Cup bracket
Vikings fall to Westview 51-22 in first-ever Cup Championship Game
For the first time in nearly 60 years, the North Salem Vikings have picked up hardware for their prep football success.
The Viks rallied from a 28-0 deficit early in the third quarter with a pair of long touchdown passes, but it wasn’t enough as the Westview Wildcats rode the strong legs of running back Jordan Fisher to a 51-22 victory Friday morning at Hillsboro Stadium. North Salem was given a second place award for their efforts in the 16 team bracket of teams ranked 17-32 by the OSAA.
Fisher, a 5-8, 175 pound dynamo, has been tearing up the opposition regularly. He came into the Cup title contest with over 2500 yards rushing on the year, including 774 yards and ten touchdowns in the first three games of the post-season. North Salem Coach Jeff Flood described the Westview scatback as “slippery.” Friday, Fisher added to his slippery numbers in an overwhelming way, shredding the North Salem defense for 417 yards and five TDs in the Wildcats’ win.
The game started slowly—neither team could mount a sustained drive early, and the game was scoreless after the first quarter. North was without leading rusher Josiah Davis, who injured his knee in last week’s victory against Liberty.
Westview changed that early in the second quarter, finishing up a seven play, 50-yard drive less than a minute into the quarter. Backup running back Jacob Munly dashed into the end zone from seven yards out with 11:05 on the clock. A two-point conversion run was stuffed by North, and the Wildcats led it 6-0.
The Vikings looked like they would even-up the score or even take the lead just a few moments later, when North quarterback TC Manumaleuna found senior receiver Neil Kniefel with a 55-yard bomb into the Westview red zone. But consecutive runs and an incomplete pass moved North backwards. Manumaleuna then tried a pass over the middle, and it was picked off at the two-yard line by linebacker Aiden Cox, who returned it ten yards to the Wildcat 12.
On the very next play, Fisher took the handoff and sprinted off left tackle, out racing North Salem defenders down the field—scoring on an 88-yard run. The two-point conversion was successful, and Westview suddenly led the game 14-0 with 8:14 remaining until half time.
Perhaps the most disheartening play of the game came with under a minute left in the first half. North Salem had moved the ball effectively down the field from its own 29 to the Westview 36, when Manmaluena threw a pass over the middle—which was intercepted by defensive back Jordan Collyer. Collyer followed a wall of blockers down the field to score 68 yards later with just :45 left until half. The PAT was blocked, but the damage had been done. Westview 20, North Salem 0.
North attempted to move down the field quickly with Manumaleuna passes, but Westview picked up its third interception of the game when Jaydon McBreen snagged an errant pass with six seconds left. The Wildcats went into intermission with their 20-point lead intact.
In the third quarter, Westview received the second-half kickoff, and marched down the field efficiently, covering 60 yards on six plays, punctuated by Fisher’s second TD of the game with a 15-yard run. The successful two-point conversion gave the Wildcats a 28-0 advantage with 9:13 left in the third.
Things were looking grim for North Salem. But nobody had told the Vikings to roll over and surrender, so they didn’t.
After Erick Gonzalez returned the ball to the North 40-yard line, an opening run resulted in a four-yard loss.
On the next play, Manumaluena dropped back and threw a deep pass down the middle. Gonzalez ran under it, stumbled past a would-be tackler, and sprinted into the end zone for a 64-yard touchdown. The PAT was no good, but the Vikings were on the board, down 28-6. North needed a break—and they got one a handful of plays later.
Westview began their next drive at their own 30-yard line, and used a pair of Fisher runs to advance to their own 46. On the next play, quarterback Nolan Keeney juggled and then lost the shotgun snap. North players scrambled and pounced on the loose football, giving the Vikings a first down at the Westview 44.
Manumaluena made the Wildcats pay for their mistake, throwing down the middle on the first play to a wide-open Erick Gonzalez, who galloped in for a touchdown from 44 yards out. Running back Sammy Davis added the two-point conversion to cut the Westview lead to 28-14 with just under seven minutes left in the third quarter.
The Vikings were back in business, but the next play diffused any momentum North Salem had just seized.
North kicker Connor Goddard attempted an on-side kick. It appeared that the Vikings snagged the ball as it crossed the ten-yard threshold needed under the rules. Unfortunately, the officials disagreed, and awarded the ball to Westview, amidst a chorus of North Salem boos. The Wildcats quickly took advantage of the frustration with ten play, 49-yard touchdown drive. Fisher had every carry for Westview, scoring from three yards out. Keeney ran the two-point conversion into the end zone to boost his team’s lead to 36-14.
With just under two minutes left in the quarter, North Salem began yet another effort to regain momentum. It did not start well. A run for no gain, and two incomplete passes made it fourth down and long for the Vikings, and they appeared dead in the water. But a dead ball call against the Wildcats for unsportsmanlike conduct salvaged the possession, giving North a first down at the Westview 44.
The reprieve seemed to energize North Salem. Pierce Walker ran for 20 yards on the ensuing play. Manumaleuna fumbled, but Jerrik Wangler recovered the ball to keep the hope alive. TC then hit Gonzalez on a slant pass for 11 yards to give the Vikings a first down at the Westview 18 as the clock ran out on the third quarter.
After the teams traded ends of the field, North lined up and handed the ball to Walker, who scampered down the sideline for an 18-yard touchdown. Manumaleuna found freshman Braxton Singleton in the back of the end zone for the two-point pass conversion, and North Salem reduced the lead back to 14, at 36-22.
North Salem then tried their second on-side kick—and it appeared to be successful as North jumped on the football after it had apparently been touched by a Westview player. But after a conference, the officials said the ball hadn’t traveled far enough, and awarded the Wildcats the football. More boos from the Viking faithful, to no avail.
Westview again went to Jordan Fisher for some offense. After runs of two and six yards, Fisher dashed 41 yards off tackle for his fourth TD. The score now stood at 44-22, Wildcats. The Fisher-dominated drive covered 49 yards on three plays.
North promptly returned the ball back to the Wildcats. After a good return by Gonzalez to the North Salem 39, Manumaleuna stepped up to make a long throw down the middle of the field, but the pass was intercepted by Jaydon McBreen—the fourth pick of a Viking pass in the game.
Westview took full advantage of the miscue, marching 79 yards on six plays—with Fisher carrying the ball on five of those plays. Back-to-back plays to start the possession gave Fisher a 21 yard and then a 45-yard run—and the Wildcats a first down at the North Salem 13. Four plays later, Fisher bolted into the end zone from seven yards out. The PAT made it 51-22
With time running down, the Vikings shifted to using the pass offense almost single-mindedly. After a short Pierce Walker run of two yards. Manumalena hit Singleton for 35 yards and a first down at the Westview 33. A Wildcat offsides penalty moved the ball forward another five yards.
With some incomplete passes in the mix, North then advanced the ball to the Westview 13 on a two-yard run by Walker and a 12-yard pass to Gonzalez. Walker’s next run covered seven yards to make it fourth down and five at the Westview 8. Following a timeout, Manumaluena attempted a pass over the middle that Kniefel was unable to corral. The ball went over to Westview on downs.
With 2:36 left in the game, Westview kept giving the ball to Fisher for a total of 22 additional yards. Those numbers pushed him over 400 yards on the game.
Fisher ended the game with all but 31 of Westview’s 448 rushing yards. Keeney threw just four passes all game for the Wildcats, connecting on two of those passes for 24 yards.
On the North Salem side of the ledger, North Salem managed just 77 yards on the ground. Pierce Walker had 53 of those yards on seven carries, with an 18-yard touchdown. Through the air, TC Manumaleuna completed 11 of 26 passes for 265 yards with four interceptions and two TD passes to Erick Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, North Salem’s offensive player of the game, had 228 all-purpose yards for the game, with 154 yards receiving on seven catches and 2 TDs. Gonzalez also had 74 yards in kick returns.
North Salem finished the 2022 season with a record of 8 and 5. Westview also finished 8 and 5.