UMATILLA — After opening league play with a 29-point loss last week, the Umatilla Vikings were frustrated. They were frustrated because they could have gone toe-to-toe with Burns if it weren’t for fundamental errors that ultimately cost them the game.
So head coach Dan Durfey went back to basics this week of practice before Umatilla hosted its first league opponent. And it worked.
The Vikings handed the Riverside Pirates a 44-16 loss Friday night to move to 4-2 on the season, and 1-1 in the Eastern Oregon League.
“It was a pretty hard hit for them,” Durfey said of the league opener. “They felt good going in there but we had a lot of breakdowns, and they were pretty frustrated about that. So, it wasn’t hard to get things going in practice.”
One thing in particular plagued the Vikings last week. Senior quarterback Kaden Webb wasn’t setting his feet well, and couldn’t make the connections Umatilla needed then. Friday, however, was a different story.
Webb went 12-for-17 for 250 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 54 yards and one touchdown on six carries.
“It felt pretty good,” Webb said. “Overall through the night it felt like I was throwing the ball pretty well, receivers were going and making plays so that’s nice to see.”
One of those plays was a 72-yard touchdown pass to senior running back Trent Durfey with three seconds left in the third quarter. The 6-foot 2-inch 210-pound back ran through Riverside’s defense the entire night.
By this point in the game, the Vikings had a comfortable lead over the Pirates (2-3 overall, 0-2 EOL).
After Umatilla’s opening drive ended with a punt on 4th-and-10, the defense took the field and wouldn’t be on for much long after. Riverside’s senior quarterback Mason Hegar fumbled as he was swarmed by the Umatilla defense, and Viking linebacker Zaquary Funderburk recovered the ball on the Pirates 1-yard line. Webb found sophomore running back Arrik Russell for Umatilla’s first score of the night.
The defense continued to make big plays, and was again the reason for the Vikings next touchdown. After a bad snap from Riverside’s punter on fourth down, Umatilla recovered the ball to bring Webb back out. Twenty six yards and six plays later, he ran for two yards to extend the Vikings lead to 16-0.
Both teams opted for the two-point conversion after each score.
Riverside struggled to contain the Vikings in the first quarter, and couldn’t quite find its rhythm on offense but a momentum changer to open the second quarter stopped Umatilla’s chance at a shutout.
The Pirates defense recovered a fumble on the 26-yard line to put them in prime position to score but unsuccessful runs and missed targets by Hager brought up 4th-and-nine. Hager was final able to find a receiver down the field and recorded a 23-yard touchdown pass to put Riverside within eight points.
The team’s traded touchdowns as Umatilla scored on the ensuing drive to extend its lead to 22-8.
The Vikings scored one more time before the half. Sophomore running back Pedro Alvarez ran in a 36 yarder to add six points to the board.
The ground game was as much of a factor as the passing game. Winds were gusting throughout most of the night, but it worked in Umatilla’s favor. Although it sent some of Webb’s passes long and may have caused a few wrinkles in play calling, the Vikings were able to establish the run early which opened things up later on.
“We were trying to establish the run game,” Webb said. “If we do that it sucks guys into the box and opens it up for throws. Establishing the run game is just about our first thought.”
Trent Durfey led the team with 11 carries for 75 yards. While Alvarez racked up 78 yards on just nine carries.
Defensively, Trent Durfey continued to play a big role. His size, speed, and physicality set him a part and allowed him to make big stops.
“He’s the heart and soul on the defense,” Dan Durfey said. “He’s the guy that controls everything out there, lets the guys know what’s going on, he’s the leader.”
Riverside was held to only 90 yards in the air with Hager completing 44-percent of his passes. The Pirates did pick up yards on the ground thanks to the efforts of senior Aramis Corpus and sophomore JR Roque, but the duo only managed to record 66 combined yards.
The reason for Umatilla’s defensive success is simple, Trent Durfey says.
“Do your job,” he said after the win.
The Vikings certainly did their job tonight, and will now prepare to face Vale next week. The Vale Vikings are also 1-1 in league play after defeating Irrigon 50-6 on Friday.
Contact Alexis at email@example.com or 541-564-4542. Follow her on Twitter @almansanarez.