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KINSTON — Games between Kinston and Fike are usually compelling, with Thursday being another example.
The Vikings remained undefeated with a thrilling 48-42 overtime victory over the Demons in a match rife with momentum-changing plays. In a shootout, Kinston (3-0) made the big play on defense, stopping Aaron Bancroft at the 1-yard line to secure the win.
Since the teams started playing each other again in 2013, each has won three games with five decided within nine points or fewer.
“It’s a big win for us,” Kinston coach Ryan Gieselman said. “We preach four-quarter football and our guys proved they were ready for (it) tonight. We’ve got playmakers on both sides of the football and if we do what we’re coached to do, things are going to take care of themselves.”
Fike (1-2) started strong, scoring on its opening drive with Bancroft punching it from 1 yard out and forcing a Kinston three-and-out, but the Vikings countered with a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown by Shiqwaun Dixon to trigger 14 unanswered Vikings points. The Demons would take a 28-21 lead late in the second, but Kieren Hooker found Jacel Jacobs for a 60-yard touchdown to tie the game. The Vikings would recover the ensuing kickoff deep in Fike territory and two plays later, Hooker found Khari Pitts for an 11-yard score and a 34-28 halftime lead.
The third quarter was one to forget for Kinston, with two fumbles and a turnover on downs. Fike took full advantage with Bancroft scoring twice in the frame to take a 42-34 lead. The Vikings scored with 7:20 to play after a 6-play, 61-yard drive — finished with a Hooker 3-yard run and Jacobs 2-point conversion — to tie the game at 42.
“Everyone needed to fight, play their assignments and never give up,” Jacobs said. “We picked everyone up and told everyone the game wasn’t over.”
Fike advanced to the Kinston 23 on its next drive, but turned the ball over on downs with 1:54 to play. The Vikings marched to the Demons’ 23 with six seconds remaining in regulation, but after a clock malfunction on a Hooker incomplete pass, the coaches decided to play for overtime.
Kinston received the ball first and Hooker found Jacobs for an 8-yard score to take the 48-42 lead. Hooker, who threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns — three to Jacobs — said he was taking what the Fike defense gave him.
“We found the weak spots in the defense,” Hooker said. “We’ve got a lot of good qualities on the team. We’re not a run team or pass team — we can switch it up when we need to.”
The Demons had a chance to win, especially after a missed extra point by the Vikings. Facing fourth-and-goal at the 4, the Vikings were called for pass interference in the end zone, placing the ball at the 2, but the interior stopped Bancroft to set off a wild celebration on the field.
Fike coach Tom Nelson said the team had its chances, but couldn’t convert at the end.
“I thought our effort was good at times, but our execution was poor and we made too many mistakes to win the football game,” Nelson said. “(Kinston) has athletes that can make plays and when that happens, there you go.”