New Plymouth's Bailey Hite aims for Vale quarterback Tanner Steele during first-half action of their game Friday night. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL).

VALE – Vale quarterback Tanner Steele’s touchdown strike to receiver John Wolfe late in the fourth quarter lifted the Vikings over New Plymouth 12-6 in a nonleague prep football match Friday night at Vale High School.

“We are finding ways to win. It doesn’t always look pretty but, at the end of the day, a win is a win,” said Vale Coach Jeff Aldred.

Steele hit Wolfe as he raced across the middle of the field and the senior fought the last few yards as he was tackled to break into the end zone for the go-ahead score with 4:27 to go.

Steele ended the night 14 of 28 for 130 yards while Wolfe – despite being double-covered much of the game – hauled in seven catches for 77 yards. Steele also hooked up with Wolfe for Vale’s first touchdown at the 7:45 mark of the second quarter and a 6-0 lead. Steele piled up 114 yards on the ground for Vale.

New Plymouth (2-2) came charging back after Wolfe’s late-game score. Pilgrim quarterback Casey Arritola’s 40-yard pass to Connor Hawker helped move the visitors down to the Vale 7-yard line with under a minute to play, but a delay of game penalty and a sack by the Viking defense snuffed the threat as the game ended. Neither team could generate much offense in the first quarter and after Vale grabbed the early 6-0 lead, the Pilgrims knotted the game 6-6 with 5:43 remaining in the second frame.

Vale's Owen Crane (88) prepares tackle New Plymouth's Connor Hawker (11) during first-half action of their game last Friday. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL).

Vale threatened just before halftime and moved to the New Plymouth 15-yard line, but back-to-back penalties stymied the drive. The Vikings (3-1) opened the second half with their longest drive of the night – an 11-play, 82-yard assault – but stalled at the New Plymouth 7-yard line and turned the ball over on downs.

Penalties at crucial times also hurt the Vikings.

“When we have opportunities to extend the lead or put teams away, we need to start doing that,” said Aldred.

Aldred said a loss of focus inside the red zone proved to be a challenge.

“Every game we’ve played we’ve left points out on the field,” said Aldred. “It was one of those games when we were rolling it seemed like flags would come out or we’d have a negative play.”

Vale's Ronnie Norton (22) and Peter McBride (4) close in on a New Plymouth runner during their game Friday night. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL).

New Plymouth coach Dallan Rupp said his team also struggled with consistency on offense.

“Our problem is we can’t sustain drives. The offense we run, you have to be able to execute 10 plays in a row or you will have a hard time scoring,” said Rupp.

Arritola ended the evening 3 of 9 for 129 yards passing for the Pilgrims. Kyle Rice led the Pilgrims’s ground attack with 73 yards on 11 carries. Aldred said overall, he was pleased with the win.

“We moved the chains fine. And we are definitely a lot more diverse offensively. It is just finishing. We need to do a better job with the little things. But we are 3-1 and haven’t played our best game yet,” he said.

Vale will host Ontario Friday at 7 p.m. In other prep football action, Burns defeated Ontario 37-14 Friday night while Nyssa/Harper Charter had a bye.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

Previous coverage:

Seasoned players will spearhead Vale High School's varsity football squad

Steele guides Vikings past La Pine in non-league contest

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