VALE – Colten Stepleton ran for three touchdowns and passed for another and the Viking defense dismantled Melba’s offensive game plan to post a 37-12 homecoming win Friday, Sept. 22.
Vale’s Brooks Haueter also scored a touchdown – on a second quarter toss from Stepleton – while the Vikings piled up 337 yards of total offense in the nonleague contest.
Vale clinched the win even with several key starters sidelined by injuries, including impact players Skyler Cade and Spur Jacobs. Kase Schaffeld, another stalwart in the offense, also was injured and saw limited playing time.
“We had several guys step up, and we just have athletes,” said Haueter after the game.
This year’s Viking squad has a diverse offensive attack, able to adjust quickly and create big plays.
“We do whatever it takes to win and it’s all about the next play,” said Stepleton, who finished night 12 of 17 for 186 yards passing.
Vale’s defense also played a pivotal role, limiting the No. 3 ranked Idaho Class 2A Mustangs to 243 yards and logging a safety.
Vale coach Jeff Aldred said the Vikings are solid on offense and defense.
“We’ve gone four games without giving up a sack, so obviously the offensive line is doing their job and our defense is relentless. We are taking teams out of their game plan very quickly,” said Aldred.
Melba, going into the game undefeated, quickly fell behind after Vale’s Jake DeVoss sacked Mustang quarterback Cutter Beus in the end zone midway through the first quarter to put Vale ahead 2-0.
Stepleton’s touchdown run late in the first quarter pushed the Vikings ahead 10-0.
Stepleton’s second touchdown run – early in the second quarter – followed by Haueter’s touchdown grab with 1:23 to go in the first half put the Vikings out in front 22-0.
Melba cut the margin to 22-6 right before intermission.
Vale iced the game with an 89-yard, 10-play drive that stretched from the tail end of the third quarter into final frame, capped by a Stepleton touchdown run with 11:15 to go and a 30-6 advantage.
Melba added a score in the fourth quarter to make it 30-12 but Stepleton hooked up with Leland Tamez for a touchdown and a 37-12 Vale lead.
“Defensively, we took Melba out of their game plan. We knew this was a big game, a game we wanted to play well in,” said Aldred.
Aldred said Melba struggled against Vale’s defensive front, especially DeVoss. Aldred said DeVos, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior, is a “next level talent.”
“When they had to account for our pass rush and keep extra blockers in, it got them out of their game plan, made them one dimensional. They rely on play action and it doesn’t work when you can’t run the ball,” said Aldred.
Vale (4-0) will face Eastern Oregon League opponent Burns on Friday, Sept. 29, in Burns at 3 p.m. Mountain Time.
“They’ve played an extremely tough schedule. So, they know this is a big game and they are back at home, and they always play us tough,” said Aldred.
In Nyssa, Ontario quarterback Diego Rodriguez threw two touchdowns and 276 yards and ran for another score as the Tigers improved to 4-0 on the season with a 42-14 nonleague win over the Bulldogs Friday, Sept. 22.
Meanwhile, Ontario’s Ethan Hendrickson piled up 181 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns.
The Tigers face Crook County in league play in Prineville at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]
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