The Vale Vikings beat the Ontario Tigers 41-30 at a match Sept. 13 (The Enterprise/Joe Siess)
VALE – Until Friday night’s football contest with Ontario, Vale’s Jared Fulwyler said he was new to the position of running back.
“This was one of the first times I played running back,” said Fulwyler.
Fulwyler, though, looked like an old pro and piled up 139 yards and a touchdown to lead Vale past the Tigers 41-30 in a non-league contest.
“I felt great during the game,” said Fulwyler. “But I wouldn’t have looked this good if it wasn’t for my linemen.”
Fulwyler proved to be the workhorse for the Vikings in a game where the two opposing teams combined for nearly 800 yards of offense.
“Each team played hard,” said Fulwyler.
Vale coach Jeff Aldred said Fulwyler’s performance wasn’t a surprise.
“We know with his mental and physical make up he is a between-the-tackles running back,” said Aldred.
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Aldred said Vale’s ability to establish its running game – and solid defense – were keys to the victory.
Tiger quarterback Kenji Teramura finished the night 12 of 21 for 241 yards with no interceptions, amassed 51 yards rushing and scored a touchdown.
“There were just some good, outstanding efforts from the Ontario skill players and when you have a quarterback that can put the ball on the money like that it can be a deadly combination,” said Aldred.
The Tigers entered the game banged and shorthanded after a 40-0 drubbing by Mazama the week before, but coach Tony Cade offered no excuses after the game.
“We had a lot of nicks still, but I thought we looked better offensively tonight. And I thought we could get back on track tonight. But kudos to Vale,” said Cade.
The Tigers opened the game with a defense Vale was not prepared for and geared to stop the run, said Aldred.
“They gave us a look we had not seen anywhere. But then we made the proper adjustments,” said Aldred.
Ontario’s Jose Flores racked up 43 yards on the ground and scored a touchdown for the Tigers in a game highlighted by five lead changes, big plays from a high-octane Tiger offense and a grueling Viking running game.
Senior TJ Speelman scored two touchdowns for the Vikings while running back Matt McBride and quarterback Colton Kesey each added a score for the home team. Sophomore John Wolfe also scored a touchdown for the Vikings.
Kesey, whose mobility outside the pocket proved to be crucial for Vale, ended the evening 7 of 15 for 102 yards passing.
The Tigers (0-2) stormed out of the gate, manufacturing an 11-play scoring assault in the first quarter to take a 6-0 lead and Teramura put together a nearly flawless performance in the first half.
Vale quickly responded and knotted the game 6-6 on Kesey’s touchdown run with 1:23 left in the first quarter.
Speelman hauled in a pass from Kesey early in the second quarter to put the Vikings ahead 14-6 at the 11:54 mark of the second stanza. From there each team traded touchdowns.
Ontario held a 22-21 lead at halftime.
Vale (2-0) went ahead 27-22 early in the third quarter when Kesey hooked up with Wolfe on a touchdown pass but Teramura’s touchdown dive with 4:27 remaining in the third quarter put the visitors ahead 30-27. Fulwyler’s touchdown run at the end of the third stanza pushed Vale out in front for good, 35-30, and Kesey’s scoring toss to Speelman late in the fourth quarter sealed the win.
The Tigers drove deep into Vale territory with just over two minutes left but Teramura was injured and the Vikings picked off a pass in the end zone to squash the threat.
“In a rivalry game, you’ve got to finish the game. You can’t take yourself out of the game,” said Cade.
Vale will face Weiser at Weiser Friday at 7 p.m. while Ontario plays at La Grande. Aldred said the game’s intenisty was not surprise.
“It was kind of what I expected,” said Aldred.
Aldred also lauded the performance of the Vikings offensive line.
“It is a nice luxury to have to be able to line up with two backs and two tight ends and say, ‘hey we are coming at you.’” said Aldred.
Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.
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