Vale running back Jared Fulwyler (No. 2) skirts past a Yamhill-Carlton player during their prep football playoff game Saturday in Yamhill. (For the Enterprise/Angie Aldred).

YAMHILL – Pete McBride hauled in a 29-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute left in the game to lift Vale over Yamhill-Carlton 27-23 in a first-round Class 3A football playoff game Saturday.

The Vikings trailed 23-20 with four minutes left to play in the game and engineered the crucial scoring drive to clinch the win.

“I expected the game to be pretty close,” said Vale coach Jeff Aldred.

Vale quarterback Colton Kesey finished the day six of 11 for 184 yards passing, incluidng the key touchdown toss to McBride.

Now the Vikings (6-4) will face unbeaten and No. 2-ranked Santiam Christian Eagles Saturday in a second-round playoff contest at Adair Village.

The game starts at 1 p.m.

The Eagles (10-0) have scored 481 points over the season while allowing 107.

The Vikings will face their toughest challenge of the season when they take on the Eagles, said Aldred.

“They are very well coached and a very well disciplined team. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. We are going to have to play perfect,” said Aldred.

Aldred said the Vikings can’t get into a scoring “shoot-out” with the Eagles.

Vale's Peter McBride (No. 20) falls into the end zone for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown against Yamhill-Carlton Saturday in Yamhill. (For the Enterprise/Angie Aldred).

“But if we can grind the clock a little bit and play keep away with ball you never know what will happen. If we can keep the game close, then you flip a coin,” said Aldred.

Santiam Christian, though, isn’t a team that has played a close game all season, generally coasting past teams by several touchdowns.

The closest game the Eagles played was a 43-22 win over Harrisburg in October.

Last Saturday, the Eagles rolled past Nyssa 50-7 in a first-round playoff game.

“Santiam Christian is good. And when a team is really good it becomes difficult for you to execute,” said Nyssa coach Lee Long.

Santiam Christian staked out an early 15-0 lead, said Long, and remained in control the rest of the game.

“The one thing that was good, toward the end, is we kind of made some changes and were able to start moving the ball a little bit,” said Long.

The Bulldogs finish their season 5-4.

Vale quarterback Colton Kesey (No. 7) takes off downfield Saturday during a first-round playoff game against Yamhill-Carlton. (For the Enterprise/Angie Aldred).

Against Santiam Christian the Vikings will need a big game from just about every player, said Aldred.

“We are going to have to play very physical and very fundamental and mistake-free football,” said Aldred.

Such play was key for the Vikings against Yamhill-Carlton, a team that entered Saturday’s game 9-0.

Vale didn’t turn the ball over against the Tigers while Jared Fulwyler, Colton Kesey, TJ Speelman and McBride scored touchdowns.

Vale's TJ Speelman (No. 24) wraps up Yamhill-Carlton's Jacob Preston during their football playoff game last Saturday in Yamhill. (For the Enterprise/Angie Aldred).

“The difference was we played probably a brand of football they haven’t seen this year. We are a physical team. But any undefeated team is tough. You can’t go undefeated and be terrible,” said Aldred.

“Our defense played really well. They relied on some big plays from their quarterback and he extended some drives. But our offense had an answer pretty much every time we needed one,” said Aldred.

A host of Vale players, including Vicente Arteaga (No. 3), John Wolfe (No. 11), Tanner Steele (No. 9) and Yahir Paz (No. 69) swarm a Yamhill-Carlton player during their first-round playoff game Saturday. (For the Enterprise/Angie Aldred).

Kesey paced the Vale running attack against the Tigers with 80 yards while Fulwyler finished the day with 69 yards on 19 carries.

Speelman hauled in two passes for 101 yards for the Vikings against Yamhill-Carlton.

Vale amassed 361 yards of total offense Saturday while the Tigers ended the day with 256 yards of total offense. Jaime Garcia paced the Tigers with 148 yards rushing.

Aldred said for the Vikings to continue their post-season journey they must do two things:

“Maximize our opportunities and eliminate mistakes.”

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