Vale holds back early Ontario surge to subdue Tigers, 41-6

Ontario quarterback Ruben Hernandez (4) pulls the trigger on a pass as Vale’s Eli Aldred (29) applies pressure during their game Friday night. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL).

VALE – Vale’s Nathan Kimball ran for 117 yards and scored two touchdowns while quarterback Tanner Steele tossed for two scores to lead the Vikings past Ontario 41-6 Friday night.

“Our focus was a lot better this week,” said Vale coach Jeff Aldred.

Quarterback Ruben Hernandez paced the Tiger attack with 67 yards on 20 carries and finished the night 18 of 27 for 132 yards passing.

Vale’s Colton Stepleton led the Viking receiving corps with two receptions for 84 yards.

Ontario opened the game with an impressive, 13-play scoring drive to take a 6-0 lead with 4:57 to go in the first quarter. That was the high point for the Tigers as its offense struggled the rest of the game.

“We’ve improved but we got to get a winning taste in our mouths,” said Ontario coach Greg Simmons.

Aldred said his team wasn’t expecting the opening Ontario (0-4) scoring assault.

“That caught us off guard. But I was glad about how we responded,” said Aldred.

Vale knotted the score 6-6 late in the first quarter on Tanner Steele’s pass to John Wolfe.

Kimball’s touchdown and Eli Aldred’s conversion run after the score pushed the home team ahead 14-6 in the second quarter.

The Vikings added a 7-yard scoring strike from Steele to Peter McBride and Steel’s conversion toss to Wolfe for a 22-6 advantage just before halftime.

Kimball’s 3-yard touchdown run early in the second half gave the Vikings a commanding 28-6 lead.

Steele’s 63-yard scoring run with 4:23 to go in the third quarter put Vale ahead 34-6.

The Vikings added a final score late in the fourth.

“This is exactly what we needed as a team. It was good for morale. We played a lot more physical and fast than we have been,” said Aldred.

Aldred said the victory will help “us with our identity.”

“We shot ourselves in the foot the last few games. But, for the most part, we didn’t see any of that tonight and we created some opportunities for ourselves,” said Aldred.

The Vikings piled up 447 yards of offense for the game. Ontario finished the night with 292.

“We just played a lot more focused and inspired football,” said Aldred.

Vale (4-1) will travel to Baker City Friday to take on the Bulldogs (2-3) at 7 p.m.

“It’s a big game and I think we match up just fine but Baker really throws it around. This weekend will tell us quite a bit but as of right now we are healthy and confident,” said Aldred.

Aldred said he wants the Vikings to “keep rolling and build on what we’ve done.”

“I feel it is important we peak at the right time,” he said.

In other prep football action, No. 1 Adrian continued to roll with a 38-0 win over No. 2 Powder Valley Friday in an eight-man contest. Adrian (5-0, 3-0) feasted on Powder Valley turnovers and was out in front 22-0 at the half.

Antelope quarterback Conely Martin rushed for 106 yards and scored three touchdowns. Jace Martin amassed 116 yards and a touchdown for the Antelopes. Adrian next plays Cove at home Friday at 7 p.m. Also Friday night, Baker defeated Nyssa 35-14. The Bulldogs (1-3) will play La Grande Friday at home at 7 p.m.

Previous coverage:

Vale football squad uses late score to beat New Plymouth

Viking road trip to La Grande ends in 37-12 defeat

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