NORTHEAST FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
BY BRIAN PALS
Reprinted from The Record*
CEDAR FALLS, IOWA - Hudson Valley Community College made its longest road trip in 23 years, only to face an even longer trip after a triple-overtime loss Sunday in The Graphic Edge Bowl.
The Vikings' hopes for their first bowl game win came to an abrupt end when quarterback Ryan Gribulis fumbled the ball away on a crunching hit in the third overtime period, sealing a 29-23 win for Ellsworth Community College of Iowa.
The gut-wrenching loss also brought a close to the record-breaking JUCO career of Vikings tailback Emmanuel Marc. Marc went out in style, piling up 269 yards on 40 carries, and was reluctant to leave the field afterward, sharing a lengthy hug with teammate David Pacifico.
"We worked so hard, and for it to end like this is the worst thing that could possibly happen," Marc said. "But I'm proud of everybody on this team for the way we fought. I'll just have to let this one sink in for awhile."
The game was a grueling, back and forth battle. Ellsworth's defense dominated early, and Hudson Valley trailed by two scores, 17-6, late in the third quarter. Marc bolted 39 yards on a fake reverse to pull the Vikings to within four, 17-13 with two minutes left in the third, and Gribulis engineered a 73-yard drive to give the Vikings their first lead, 20-17, with 3:16 left in the game.
Ellsworth kicker David Lonie sent the game into overtime with a 36-yard field goal with 1:18 to play. After both sides came up empty in the first extra period, the Vikings drew first blood with a Dan Farrell field goal in the second OT.
Lonie tied it again, though, on a 39-yarder, and the Panthers punched in the eventual game-winner on a one-yard plunge by quarterback Junior Alexis in the third OT.
The game took place on the artificial turf of the University of Northern Iowa's UNI-Dome complex, and both teams were visibly exhausted by the warm conditions of the indoor game.
"It was our first turf game and our first indoor game, but I'm sure Ellsworth was tired too," said Viking coach Bob Jojo.
The Vikings' 30 outgoing seniors had nothing to be ashamed of after leading the Vikings to its third eight-win season, Jojo said.
"Everybody played their butts off," Jojo said. "It's disappointing to lose, but I'm not disappointed in the effort."
The efforts of Marc earned the Spring Valley native a long entry in the Viking record book, including most career rushing yards (3,273) and most touchdowns (30). He led all junior college rushers this season, finishing with a school-record 2,038 yards, and should be scoring touchdowns for a major college program next fall.
"If he's not a Division I running back, then I guess I don't know what Division I is," Jojo said.
*-Appeared in 2007 Hudson Valley media guide