Victoria wins 8M-II title on Dinkel's late TD dash

Victoria's Brady Dinkel breaks free for the 56-yard winning TD. (Everett Royer,
By: Conor Nicholl for
Nov 21, 2015

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NEWTON – Victoria and Argonia-Attica were tied at 28 in the final seconds of the Eight-Man, Division II state championship game Saturday. The Knights faced fourth-and-inches from their own 24-yard line. Victoria decided to go for it.

Senior quarterback Brady Dinkel’s goal was simply to gain the first down. He took the snap, ran to the middle, saw a crease and then bolted to the right and raced down the sideline. Dinkel outran the Titans’ defense and crossed the goal line with two seconds remaining for a 56-yard touchdown. Dinkel tacked on the two-point conversion.

A&A’s kickoff return featured several laterals but fell short. Dinkel and Victoria capped a remarkable season and a game for the ages with a 36-28 victory at Newton’s Fischer Field.

“I didn’t know I had it until I crossed the goal line, but I knew we needed to get something done there, so I figured I would try and make something happen, I guess,” Dinkel said. “It was getting pretty late in the game.”

Victoria finished 12-0 and won its seventh state title in school history. The Knights beat the Titans for the second straight season in the finale and captured back-to-back crowns for the first time in school annals. This season joins the 1988 season as the lone perfect seasons for Victoria. Tenth-year Victoria coach Doug Oberle, now 3-1 in state games as a head coach, said he had never been a part of a more exciting finish.

“Kid like that, you have got to flow hard to cut him off, and we had a little bit of overpursuit, and then a couple missed tackles,” A&A co-coach Luke Greenwood said. “Special player making special plays. He is a heck of an athlete, and that’s what he did on that last play. He just make a heck of a play.”

Senior receiver Taylor Corley was running next to senior lineman Brandon Brungardt as Dinkel raced down the sideline. They were yelling, ‘Go, Go.’

“When he finally crossed, and then he put his hands up, I wanted to tackle BB, and then I wanted to go tackle Brady,” Corley said. “It was crazy. You saw him come in, and then he bounced it back out, and I saw those three guys trailing, and I was like, ‘Oh dear Lord, please.’ He did it.”

Dinkel, all-state at quarterback and safety in 2014, played well in a big Week 1 victory versus Central Plains. A few hours later, he was hospitalized and then life-watched to Wichita with internal organ problems. Dinkel wasn’t expected to come back. Senior Joe Dortland stepped in admirably for seven games and remained at quarterback when Dinkel came back in Week 9.

Last week, Dortland broke his collarbone and didn’t play again after the first two snaps at Wallace County. Dinkel came back under center. On Saturday, he rushed 11 times for 173 yards and four scores, including a 79-yarder in the final seconds of the first half. He finished 6 of 11 for 70 yards and another touchdown.

“He has had a rough year,” Oberle said. “I know his year didn’t go the way he wanted it to go in terms of being on the field. I think he made up for it today obviously. Phenomenal day by him. I thought our front got off. We ran that play about four or five times, and he cut it back a lot. But he stayed with the play, stayed true and got down the sideline.”

Last year, the Knights dominated the Titans, 52-8, in the title game. This season, A&A had increased depth, much improved defense, the addition of transfer Jacob Norris and senior quarterback Alec McDaniel again playing at a high level. The Titans are now 5-4, 12-1 and 12-1 since they started the football co-op.

“We told them all week in practice that this was going to be the greatest game since we put this co-op together,” Greenwood said. “In three years, this was going to be the greatest game we have played, and it was. Both ways. It comes down, 10 seconds on the clock, they made a play.”

The game was tough and physical all contest. A&A leading rusher Devon Newberry left with 9:36 remaining in the third quarter and didn’t return. Two plays before Newberry suffered the injury, Victoria all-state lineman Eric McAlonan left with a knee injury.

He eventually returned, delivered a late sack and ended the contest with a special teams tackle. A&A had several players cramping, and Knight junior linebacker Bryant Karlin had several open cuts on his face. McAlonan had tears in eyes in the postgame celebration.

“It’s been a great year,” McAlonan said. “I just tried to block, and Brady came out like he always does, and does a good job. It was awesome. I am so excited.”

Victoria never trailed and led 28-14 with 11 minutes, 20 seconds left. However, the Titans controlled the majority of the second half. The Knights had one third-quarter first down, on the quarter’s final play. A&A ran 41 second-half plays, 22 more than Victoria.

The Titans tied the game on a 3-yard, inside slant on fourth down from McDaniel to senior Kolten Koerner. McDaniel had to handle a bad snap that rolled back to him before he threw to Koerner who made a great catch. Koerner then caught the two-point conversion to tie the game at 28.

McDaniel, held to minus-11 first half yards, finished with 26 carries for 71 yards. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 211 yards with four touchdown passes.

“Nothing but proud of the boys,” Greenwood said. “That effort that they showed in the second half – they did everything that we asked them to do. At halftime, we told them come out and battle and just chip away, and they did that. Take away a few plays, and it could have went differently.”

A Victoria turnover and A&A punt gave the Knights possession at their own 15-yard line with 35 seconds remaining. An incomplete pass and nine-yard run by sophomore Collin Kisner set up 3rd-and-1. Senior Parker Riedel carried the ball and came up just short of the marker. A measurement confirmed Victoria was only inches away.

“If we don’t make it, we give them a great opportunity,” Oberle said. “I have faith in our front. We just ran a little option follow play.”

On the next snap, Dinkel completed a historic season with a memorable run.

“It was open, so I ran,” Dinkel said. “All I knew was just don’t let them catch me, that’s all I thought about, because they were getting pretty close. I am glad the goal line was coming up fast.”


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