VALE — The Vale football team improved to 2-0 on the season after beating Ontario 41-30 in a shootout reminiscent of some of the schools’ legendary duels from the mid-’90s.
With Ontario leading 22-21 at halftime, the Vikings went back to the classic Vale offense, grinding the game to a halt with the running game and taking advantage of a tired Ontario.
The hero of the night for the Vikings was Jared Fulwyler, who is listed as a receiver and was expected to be one of Vale’s top receiving threats this year. Fulwyler said he’s never played running back at the varsity level before Friday night.
Fulwyler got his first taste of playing running back over the summer, when the Vikings went to the Boise State University football camp.
“Jared’s really more of a running back than a receiver,” Aldred said. “We really relied on him tonight.”
And Vale’s faith in Fulwyler paid off as the senior carried the ball 26 times for 139 yards and a touchdown against the Tigers. He was a big part of the Vale attack in the second half as the Vikings pounded the ball up the middle to wear out the Ontario defense.
“We just practiced really hard this week,” Fulwyler said. “It’s Ontario. This is a big game for us. It’s tradition. It’s tradition for us to be tough and come and beat Ontario.”
Another big part of Vale’s attack was the play of the offensive line, which Aldred said was
“I was really impressed with the offensive line tonight,” Aldred said. “Ontario has some great linemen and they were able to hold them.”
Fulwyler also praised the play of the line on Friday.
“Really I only looked good tonight because of our line,” Fulwyler said. “They just played so well tonight, it’s crazy.”
Vale quarterback Colton Kesey was also a terror for Ontario to contain on Friday. The senior completed seven of 15 passes for 102 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also carried the ball 22 times for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Kesey came in clutch for Vale in the fourth quarter. The Vikings spent most of the fourth quarter on one long seven-minute drive. Facing fourth down with five yards to go on the Ontario 11-yard line, Kesey rolled out to his right and threw a dart to TJ Speelmon for a touchdown.
On the following Ontario drive, Kesey put a stop to any hope of a Tiger comeback after pulling in an interception thrown by Ruben Hernandez Jr.
The Vikings struggled to contain Ontario’s Kenji Teramura in the first half, as the senior quarterback was lighting Vale up. Teramura was a perfect eight-for-eight for 157 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
“Kenji’s a really great quarterback. I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” Fulwyler said. “Really we had to play tougher in the second half. We needed to play faster. It’s tradition. We’re Vikings.”
In the second half, Teramura completed four of 11 passes with no touchdowns.
“Teramura’s the type of quarterback where he can make every throw on the field,” Aldred said. “I would have liked to have seen more pressure on the front. But we improved our intensity defensively. The secondary covered tighter in the second half, for sure.”
For the Tigers, Friday was the second week in a row where they allowed an opponent to pull away late. Ontario coach Tony Cade said the Tigers are struggling right now with a lack of numbers.
“In key moments, you can’t take yourself out of the game,” Cade said. “Really it came down to depth. Our kids were right in it.”
Ontario has just 18 players on the varsity roster this fall, meaning there are a lot of players who are in for every play of the game. Later in the game, Ontario was playing without several starters.
But when Ontario was firing on all cylinders, Cade said he was happy with what he saw from the Tigers.
“[Kesey] is elusive. He’s a hell of a competitor,” Cade said. “And I thought we contained the ball well… We had a lot of good things today. You can’t fault the kids for the numbers we have. There’s no quit in these guys. I’ll go to battle with my eighteen guys any day of the week. They’re mentally tough. They battled.”
Teramura was the Tigers’ top rusher, carrying the ball 11 times for 58 yards. Jose Flores carried the ball five times for 43 yards.
The Vikings (2-0) will play at Weiser on Friday. The Tigers (0-2) will play at La Grande on Friday.