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Vikings get the job done, await postseason matchup
Pecatonica-Argyles Charlie Rubio scores on a 29-yard touchdown run in the first quarter Thursday.
BLANCHARDVILLE - Pecatonica-Argyle junior running back Jared Johnson did a little bit of everything in leading the Vikings to a 31-12 win over Benton Scales-Mound (Ill). to seal a playoff berth.

Johnson rushed for 151 yards on 21 carries, completed two passes, caught a 2-yard TD pass and returned an interception 27-yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to ice the victory for the Vikings.

"Everyone was cold so we told them to warm up and run the ball," Johnson said. "The line did a great job. We have each other's back. We are a band of brothers."

Pecatonica-Argyle coach Larry Green reminded his team that this could have been the last game for the seniors coming into the game on Senior Night. Everyone knew what was at stake. Pecatonica-Argyle finishes the regular season 5-4 and awaits their playoff match-up.

"I didn't want to leave it (the playoff qualification) up to the criteria and with an overall losing record," Green said. "We kind of controlled our own destiny. It was a must-win game for us."

Johnson enjoyed his opportunities to throw the ball.

"I've told coach Strommen to let me throw the ball," he said. "I don't know where that came from."

Johnson intercepted Brandon Lyne's pass with just under 5 minutes to go and returned it 27-yards for a touchdown to clinch a playoff berth.

"That pick fired me up and the team up," Johnson said.

Senior Zach Mick recovered a fumble in the first quarter that set up the Vikings' first scoring drive. Despite taking an early lead on Pecatonica-Argyle senior Charlie Rubio's 29-yard TD run, the Vikings struggled on offense in the first half. Sophomore Jon Hendrickson threw two first half interceptions.

The Vikings were able to overcome several penalties that stalled drives. Rubio rushed for 83 yards on five carries and scored one touchdown.

That all changed in the second half when the Vikings pounded the ball and scored 21 second half points. The Vikings rushed for 262 total yards.

The Zephyrs' first drive of the second half ended in a turnover on downs and the Vikings went to work.

"It was good to establish the run," Rubio said. "We are in the playoffs. It's the start of a new season. It's one and done now."

Hendrickson capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a 14-yard TD run on which he broke a couple of tackles to give the Vikings a 17-12 lead with 2:27 left in the third quarter. The Vikings dodged a bullet on the go-ahead scoring drive when Benton Scales-Mound intercepted a third Hendrickson pass, but the play was wiped out due to a defense holding penalty. Hendrickson scored six plays later.

"We were kind of flat after that second drive in the first half," Green said. "We made some adjustments and were able to run the football."

The Vikings then had a 14-play, 80 drive that culminated in Hendrickson's 2-yard TD pass to Johnson about midway through the fourth quarter for a 24-12 lead. Hendrickson completed 9 of 16 passes for 76 yards.

The Vikings shut down the Zephyrs in the second half and bottled up their running game. The Zephyrs rushed for just 90 total yards.

Pecatonica-Argyle has a strong tradition in football with the Vikings winning 14 of the last 20 conference championships. Although the Vikings didn't win a conference title this year, Rubio is looking forward to the playoffs.

"Coming into the season our goals were to win the Six Rivers and start another dynasty," Rubio said.