Keegan Mizuta (No. 21) slips a Umatilla tackler during their game Friday night in Vale. Mizuta piled up 175 yards and scored four touchdowns for the Vikings. (For the Enterprise/Angie Aldred)
VALE – Keegan Mizuta ran for 175 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead the Vikings past Umatilla 49-7 Friday night in an Eastern Oregon League football game.
Mizuta’s teammate, Jared Fulwyler, chipped in 83 yards on 12 carries and scored a touchdown while quarterback Colton Kesey finished the evening six of 13 for 102 yards passing.
The methodical, workmanlike win for Vale sets up a big game Friday against Burns to settle the league title.
“We took advantage of some breaks that went our way and we converted on some turnovers they had,” said Vale coach Jeff Aldred.
Vale amassed 413 yards of offense for the game. Umatilla, meanwhile, ended the night with 211 yards.
“A lot of mental mistakes cost us. But the kids got a lot of no-quit in them and they kept playing hard,” said Dan Durfey, Umatilla coach.
Umatilla turned the ball over five times and switched out of its spread offense in the second half after the Vikings built a 20-0 lead. The tactical move, from the pass-oriented attack to a power run package, generated limited success but failed to grab the momentum from Vale.
“We wanted to settle them down a little bit,” said Durfey.
The Vikings went ahead 27-0 early in the second half after Kesey hooked up with Matt McBride on a 15-yard touchdown pass, one of two the senior scored Friday.
“Our offense was solid tonight,” said McBride.
On its next possession, Umatilla used 13 plays to reach the Vale 7-yard line, but a fumble stalled the drive and forced the visitors to turn the ball over on downs.
Vale took advantage, using nine plays to drive the field and go ahead 34-0 on Fulwyler’s 7-yard scoring jaunt with 2:44 to go in the third quarter.
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Umatilla’s lone score came early in the fourth quarter on Andrew Earl’s one-yard dive.
“I feel like we executed well tonight,” said Kesey after the game.
Mizuta’s six-yard touchdown run with 7:50 to go in the game gave the Vikings a commanding 41-7 lead.
“I think it took a little bit for us to get rolling, but once we capitalized on a few of their mistakes and sustained a few drives, I think our kids felt comfortable,” said Aldred.
Mizuta’s 10-yard scoring run with 5:06 left put Vale ahead 49-7 and sealed the win.
“He is moving really well and in good shape and he is just building confidence each and every week,” said Aldred.
McBride’s interception of an Earl pass on Umatilla’s opening drive set up Maizuta’s first score, a 28-yard touchdown run at the 5:20 mark of the first quarter and a 6-0 lead.
The Vikings then stymied Umatilla the rest of the first half and scored two more touchdowns in the second stanza to take control.
“All of us played good tonight. We played hard and our line played super good,” said Fulwyler.
Now the Vikings must prepare for a prime-time contest Friday in Burns. The Hilanders are 8-0 and ranked sixth by the Oregon School Activities Association. Vale is 5-3 – and 3-0 in league play – and is ranked eighth.
“It is the league championship Friday. The winner gets a home playoff game. So, there is a lot of motivation,” said Aldred.
Aldred said Vale’s defensive game Friday will be key.
“Burns does a lot of movement, pulls guards and tacklers and false pulls sometimes and we are going to have to focus on being defensively disciplined,” said Aldred.
Aldred said the game could be a “shootout.”
“We are a lot more right at you, ground and pound and Burns likes to go fast and score fast and really work the vertical passing game,” said Aldred.
Aldred said it will be a good game Friday.
“They are undefeated. They’ve earned everything they’ve gotten but we’ve played a tough schedule and we are battle-tested,” said Aldred.
News tip? Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.
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