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Heavy-hearted Vikings knocked out of playoffs
Times photo: Mark Nesbitt Pecatonica-Argyle senior Josh Hendrickson blocks a Mineral Point defender for teammate Jared Johnson during Saturdays WIAA Division 6 Level 2 playoff game. Mineral Point won 35-7, ending the Vikings season.
ARGYLE - After losing the first three games of the season, Pecatonica-Argyle senior Tannar Johnson knew some doubted the Vikings.

"We started out 0-3 and every week in the paper no one gave us a chance," Tannar Johnson said. "We buckled down. We had a heck of a turnaround."

Pecatonica-Argyle, playing just a day and a half after Pecatonica freshman Mason Wedige died in a car accident, had its postseason run end with a 35-7 loss to Mineral Point in a WIAA Division 6 Level 2 playoff game Saturday. Despite the playoff loss, the Vikings played their best football at the end of the season winning six of their last eight games.

Mineral Point junior Brady Tibbits returned the opening kickoff of the second half 81 yards for a touchdown to spark the Pointers. The Pointers outscored the Vikings 22-0 in the second half.

"That kickoff return demoralized us a little bit," Pecatonica-Argyle coach Larry Green said.

Mineral Point senior quarterback Tucker Pittz completed 9 of 13 passes for 100 yards and three touchdowns. He tossed two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

"I've never been a part of a turnaround like this before," Green said. "I would put this team up against any in the state from where we have come from. To get to be in a position to be in Level 2 of the playoffs is phenomenal."

Pecatonica-Argyle entered the Level 2 game with a strong history against Mineral Point, winning three of their four previous postseason matchups. Early on, despite two of their three turnovers coming in the first half, the Vikings had chances to tie the game or take the lead.

Mineral Point senior Trevor Goebel intercepted a pass from Pecatonica-Argyle sophomore quarterback Jon Hendrickson to set up the Pointers' first scoring drive. Mineral Point marched from midfield in 11 plays and the drive was capped by Cody Arn's 1-yard TD plunge.

The Pointers cashed in on an 11-play, 80-yard drive culminating in Pittz's 18-yard TD pass to Zach Wallace to give the Pointers a 13-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Wallace finished with three catches for 45 yards and two touchdowns.

The Vikings responded by going to a hurry-up offense. A seven-play, 70-yard drive was capped with junior Jared Johnson's 10-yard TD run, slicing the Pointers' lead to 13-7. Johnson rushed for 100 yards on 21 carries. Hendrickson completed 6 of 17 passes for 28 yards.

"I thought we are still in it," Jared Johnson said. "We were pumped. I don't know what happened in the second half. They were ready to hit and we weren't."

That set the stages for Tibbits' game-changing play returning the kickoff for a touchdown.

"That really gave them a fire," Tannar Johnson said. "After we didn't score, that really turned the table right there."