Vale's John Wolfe (1) and Owen Crane (88) tackles a South Umpqua player during their playoff game Saturday. (Angie Aldred/Special to the Enterprise)
BEND - The Vale Vikings played South Umpqua even for three quarters on Saturday in the state 3A football playoffs but they couldn’t overcome a rough time with sacks and penalties, losing 24-21 on a late-game field goal.
“They made one more play than we did,” said Vale coach Jeff Aldred. “They had some good team speed and they were pretty athletic. They took the momentum early and we had a hard time getting it back.”
The Viks finished their season 10-2 after making it to the quarterfinals.
South Umpqua advances to the title game on Saturday, Nov. 27, taking on Siuslaw.
On paper, the Viks were the leaders.
They finished the game with more first downs (16 to 13), more plays (58 to 55), more total offense (295 yards to 281), and more time of possession (26:25 to 19:10).
But they also led in two areas that played a role in the final score – total penalties (6 for 52 yards) and sacks (3 for 32 yards).
“They had a great game plan and they didn’t make mistakes and we did.” said Aldred.
Vik Nathan Kimball led the way on the ground with 18 carries for a net 93 yards. Tanner Steele also carried 18 times, netting 31 yards and two touchdowns. He passed for another.
South Umpqua jumped out front, scoring early in the first quarter on a 1-yard run. The Viks answered late in the quarter with a 34-yard scoring strike from Steele to John Wolfe.
Both teams scored in the second quarter and then South Umpqua scored on a 6-yard run with eight seconds left in the half, taking a 21-14 lead to the locker room.
“When it looked like we were about ready to take the momentum something would happen. We had our opportunities. Between fundamentals and turnovers, that ended up being the deciding part of the game. Not really much more to say than that,” said Aldred.
The Viks struggled in the first drive of the second half. Steele was sacked once for a 9-yard loss and again for an 11-yard loss, compounded by a 5-yard penalty.
Late in the quarter, Eli Aldred gave the Viks a boost with a 32-yard run to the South Umpqua 8-yard line. Steele punched it in to tie up the game with an 8-yard run with 24 seconds left in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, South Umpqua got to the Vale 19 and on fourth down and 8, went for the field goal. Vik Peter McBride blocked the kick and Vale took over.
Three plays moved the Viks to their 31-yard line but McBride lost 11 yards on the next play and Steele was then sacked for a 12-yard loss, pinning Viks back to their 3-yard line, punting on a fourth-and-36.
South Umpqua took over on the Vale 30 and worked down to the Vale 5-yard line with 25 seconds left. After a failed pass, South Umpqua went for the field goal, with Juri Moros hitting from 28 yards to score with 18 seconds left.
Vale had one last shot, with Steele hitting Aldred for a 22-yardpass and then rushing for 11 yards to get to the South Umpqua 37.
Time ran out before the Viks could get off another play.
“It will be a hard one to get over. The what ifs are going to nag at you for a while but you have to look at the positives and we had a hellva season. I think we accomplished a lot,” said Aldred.
Since clinching a state title in 2015, the Vikings have made the playoffs every year and either lost to the eventual champion or runner up.
“I like our program and our kids. It’s just hard, when it feels so fresh, to put it into perspective,” said Aldred.
Aldred praised the performance of the seniors on the team.
“I can’t say enough about them. They are dedicated and passionate and good kids on an off the field. They’re going to leave a really good legacy with our program,” said Aldred.
Vale's Colton Stepleton (7) along with John Wolfe close in on South Umpqua's Caj Simmons (5) while a third Vale player clutches the ankles of Simmons. (Angie Aldred/Special to the Enterprise).
Vale player Eli Aldred (29) sets up to block for Peter McBride (4) while Jackson Schaffeld (59) blocks a South Umpqua player. (Angie Aldred/Special to the Enterprise).
Vale quarterback Tanner Steele (9) battles for yardage against South Umpqua Saturday afternoon in Bend. (Angie Aldred/Special to the Enterprise)
Vale's vaunted ground game played a key role against the Lancers Saturday in Bend during a prep football playoff game. (Angie Aldred/Special to the Enterprise)
Vale's John Wolfe (1) runs for daylight against South Umpqua. (Angie Aldred/Special to the Enterprise).
Vale's Owen Crane (88) tackles South Umpqua's Andrew Christensen (12) during their playoff game Saturday. (Angie Aldred/Special to the Enterprise)
Eli Aldred (29) and John Wolfe (1) move in to tackle South Umpqua's Andrew Christensen. (Angie Aldred/Special to the Enterprise)
Vale's Tanner Steele (9) falls forward for a first down against South Umpqua Saturday. (Angie Aldred/Special to the Enterprise)
Vale's Ronnie Norton (58) tackles South Umpqua's Andrew Christensen (12). (Angie Aldred/Special to the Enterprise)
Vale's Kade Kurata (3) tries to block a pass during a playoff game with South Umpqua Saturday. (Angie Aldred/Special to the Enterprise).
John Wolfe tries to push out of a tackle by South Umpqua's Isaac Real (8) during their playoff game Saturday. (Angie Aldred/Special to the Enterprise)
EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM - Available for $5 a month. Subscribe to the digital service of the Enterprise and get the very best in local journalism. We report with care, attention to accuracy, and an unwavering devotion to fairness. Get the kind of news you’ve been looking for - day in and day out from the Enterprise.