Looking for a big fourth down conversion late in the game, the Vikings kept the ball on the ground. Pictured are, front from left, Cole Svestka, Mikhail Suvorov, Holt Johansen. Back - Austin Ashbacher and Cole Hamilton. Look for more photos at Decorah Newspapers Sports Section on Facebook. (Photo by Jennifer Bissell)
Looking for a big fourth down conversion late in the game, the Vikings kept the ball on the ground. Pictured are, front from left, Cole Svestka, Mikhail Suvorov, Holt Johansen. Back - Austin Ashbacher and Cole Hamilton. Look for more photos at Decorah Newspapers Sports Section on Facebook. (Photo by Jennifer Bissell)

A 91-yard kickoff return brought Decorah fans to their feet as the Class 3A No. 10 and defending state champion Decorah football team (1-0) held on in a lightning-delayed season opener against Class 3A No. 4 Waverly-Shell Rock (0-1) 17-14 Friday night.

The game, which was the 15th win in a row for Decorah, was delayed over an hour in the fourth quarter due to lightning in the area, with the Vikes holding on to a slim 17-14 lead.

Building a lead

The Vikings came out of the gates like the experienced team, despite returning just four players with starting experience. They took the opening kickoff and moved down the field, taking advantage of a 10-yard Go-Hawk defensive holding penalty. The drive ended when quarterback Bryce Pierce, who was making his first varsity start, found Mikhail Suvorov open for the 30-yard score. With the Pierce PAT, it was 7-0 Decorah just over three minutes into the game.

The Decorah defense held the Go-Hawks to a three and out on their first drive. With the ball back, the Vikes rushed down the field before the drive stalled. Pierce then booted a 30-yard field goal through the uprights, giving the Vikes a 10-0 lead with 4:58 to go in the first.

For the complete story and additional photos, pick up Decorah Newspapers at one of the many convenient locations throughout Decorah and Winneshiek County. Or, for 34 cents an issue, subscribe to Decorah Newspapers by calling (563) 382-4221.