By John L. Braese
VALE – For a boy playing football in the backyard with friends, the dream is the same: The score is tied, the clock is ticking down, the boy gets the ball playing against his biggest rival.
And he scores.
For Nyssa quarterback Boston Thompson, the dream turned into reality Friday night in Vale.
In a typical Vale-Nyssa matchup, defense ruled the game before Thompson and the Bulldogs scored with 65 seconds left in the game to give Nyssa an 18-12 Eastern Oregon League victory.
“It was a planned play,” said Thompson in between hugs from teammates and fans after the game. “We worked hard all week, not taking any time off. We just kept working knowing we were coming to Vale.”
Nyssa came into the game after having two weeks to prepare for the Viks. A planned bye week, combined with a cancelled game against New Plymouth, provided Nyssa Coach Lee Long and the Dawgs time to plan.
“This team played like their hair was on fire tonight,” Long said. “Vale has improved and the game tonight showed us that.”
Nyssa did lead at the half 12-6 but the Vikings tied up the score late in the fourth quarter.
With the Bulldogs driving late in the fourth quarter, Nyssa coughed up the ball with Vale recovering with 2:58 showing on the clock.
The Vikings took over at the Nyssa 46-yard line, but the Bulldog defense held and Vale turned the ball over after four downs on the 37-yard line. That set the stage for the winning drive.
After one play, Long sent in the next: a pass to the running back. Thompson connected with Pedro Chavez on a 60-yard scoring play the won the game.
For the night, Chavez had only two receptions, but totaled 100 yards. Jose Sanchez led Nyssa in receiving with four catches for 65 yards.
Thompson ended his night 13-for-26 for 251 yards and two interceptions.
Johnathan Iniguez and his 18 touches for 71 yards led the Bulldog ground game. Sanchez handled the ball 11 times for 35 yards.
Offensively, Nyssa totaled 368 yards.
“We remembered what happened last year,” said Sanchez. “We knew we had to come back and believe in ourselves. This was a great team effort that we have worked on the last two weeks.
Last season, the Vikings left Nyssa with a 13-12 victory after kicker Rudy Gomez kicked the extra point after a Vale score.
In this year’s loss, the Vikings had 348 yards offense. Quarterback Cade Perry was 7-for-23 passing with Colton Kesey catching three of those for 26 yards. On the ground, Keegan Mizuta had 14 carries for 109 yards.
“Keegan had his best game of the year,” said Vale Coach Jeff Aldred.
Aldred said the Viks were prepared and had the plan ready for a win. They just failed to execute.
“There was missed opportunities on both sides,” Aldred said. “This was a typical rivalry game. We felt confident going in. Our defense played with confidence. Our offense had to do better. We changed some personnel packages and simplified the offense. We need the older kids on the team to step up.”
Nyssa’s win places the Bulldogs in a three-way tie for first place in the Eastern Oregon League. Burns and Irrigon also started league play with wins.
The three-way tie will end Friday as the Bulldogs host the Burns Hilanders. Game time is 7 p.m.
Vale will be on the road Friday taking on the other undefeated league team, Irrigon.