ONTARIO – Ontario quarterback Diego Rodriguez put together another virtuoso performance by throwing for more than 400 yards but Vale used a relentless ground attack – and a few big plays – to help it post a 35-25 league victory Friday night.
Rodriguez finished the night 25 of 34 for 423 yards and tossed three touchdowns and ran for another as the Tigers (1-1, 2-3) struck first for an early lead but couldn’t stop what was a relentless, effective Vale ground game.
“On offense we were extremely efficient. Overall a good performance,” said Vale coach Jeff Aldred.
Vale’s Colton Stepleton rushed for 136 yards and scored two touchdowns while teammate Kade Schaffeld scored one touchdown and teammate Eli Aldred ran for two scores.
Aldred’s first touchdown, an 87-yard kickoff return, pushed the Vikings ahead for good, 13-12 late in the first quarter.
Tiger head coach Greg Simmons said his team was confident going into the Friday matchup after nearly defeating Class 4A Baker Sept. 23.
“They wanted this win and it is tough not to get it,” said Simmons.
The Tigers, though, appear to be about half a quarter or less away from a breakout performance, especially with Rodriguez as quarterback.
The sophomore quarterback used a precision passing arm to slice away yards at critical times during the Friday night contest.
“He puts our guys in a good position to make plays,” said Simmons.
Aldred said his team expected Rodriguez to make big plays.
“It was definitely two contrasting styles. Our focus going into the game was to make them as one-dimensional as possible. When you have a quarterback that can throw on target like that, we knew there would be some big plays,” said Aldred.
Vale used its ground-control offense to good effect to open the second half and effectively put the game on ice.
Ahead 20-12, the Vikings (1-0, 3-2) used a 61-yard, seven minute 11-play drive to go ahead to go ahead 27-12 on Aldred’s touchdown run at the 5:04 mark of the third quarter.
“I felt it was extremely important to score on that first drive. Our offensive line played fantastic,” said Aldred.
Ontario cut the margin to 27-18 when Rodriguez hooked up with Ethan Hendrickson early in the fourth quarter but Kase Schaffeld’s touchdown run with 5:14 left pushed the visitors ahead 35-18.
Ontario scored a final time with 4:03 remaining in the game to slice the Vale lead to 35-25.
The Tigers jumped out in front early for a 6-0 advantage on Rodriguez’s touchdown toss with 8:48 to go in the first quarter.
Vale, though, came right back to take a 7-6 edge on Stepleton’s 80-yard touchdown jaunt. Rodriguez scored a touchdown late in the first quarter to put the home team out in front 12-7 but Aldred’s kickoff return put Vale on top.
“They’ve got several good receiving targets and they had some big plays. We tried to play a bend, but don’t break, defense,” said Aldred.
Vale will have a bye this weekend while Ontario will play Burns in Burns at 7 p.m. Friday.
Football – Sept. 30
Adrian 38, Crane 16
Vale 35, Ontario 25
Echo 18, Harper 13
Nyssa 20, Rainier 8
Horseshoe Bend 3, Adrian 0
Melba 3, Nyssa 0
La Grande 3, Ontario 0
Pendleton 3, Ontario 0
Baker 3, Vale 0
Adrian 3, Huntington 0
Burns 3, Nyssa 2
Baker 3, Ontario 0
Prairie City 3, Jordan Valley 0
Nyssa 5, Four Rivers 3
Ontario 4, Fruitland 0
Ontario 3, La Grande 0
Nyssa 4, Payette 1
Four Rivers 4, Nyssa 1
Nyssa 5, Echo/Stanfield 3
Four Rivers 7, Echo/Stanfield 2
Fruitland 6, Ontario 1
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]
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