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Apollo-Ridge tops Northgate on late field goal

| Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, 12:40 a.m.

Apollo-Ridge's most impressive win in recent memory came down to the toe of kicker Lonny Wells.

The junior's 19-yard field goal was true as time expired, and it lifted the Vikings to a 20-19 upset of Class A No. 9 Northgate on Friday night in an Eastern Conference clash at Alumni Field in Bellevue.

When asked whether he had any hesitation about Wells going for the field goal, Vikings coach John Skiba answered bluntly.

“No. I've never had him falter,” he said. “He's always so steady with everything he does with us.”

Apollo-Ridge (4-3, 4-2) recovered a fumble with less than two minutes to play. The Vikings needed seven plays to take the clock down to two seconds before calling on Wells.

The Vikings were led by junior quarterback Jesse Zelonka, who gained 128 yards on 22 carries. He completed 7 of 14 passes.

His most important pass — and only scoring throw — came at the midpoint of the fourth quarter with the Vikings trailing, 19-10. Zelonka hit sophomore Alex Smith with a high lob from 26 yards, cutting Northgate's lead to 19-17. Smith caught three passes for 89 yards.

“Jesse did an unbelievable job. From the beginning of the year, against North Catholic to right now, it's like night and day because he's starting to understand it, and he's taking to (the game plan),”Skiba said. “There was so much on his plate, especially when Tre (Tipton) went out.”

Tipton, a sophomore receiver, missed most of the first half and part of the second with a knee injury. Tipton had 30 yards on six carries, including a 9-yard touchdown to open the scoring. The majority of his work came in the second half.

“He's a young kid. It's the first time he's ever been dinged up like that,” Skiba said.

Northgate (5-2, 5-1) came out sluggish in the first quarter, but the return of running back Cody Walter in the second breathed life into the Flames' offensive attack. Walter sat out the first quarter for disciplinary reasons.

“We try to teach these kids life lessons,” Northgate coach T.J. Wiley said. “To his credit, he took it like a man, he sat out, and when he came in, he did give us a spark that we needed.”

Walter rushed for 181 yards on 19 carries and two scores. He also caught a 22-yard scoring pass.

Dave Yohe is a freelance writer.

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