BEND — Juri Moros booted a 23-yard field goal with 18 seconds to play, launching South Umpqua into the Class 3A football state championship game with a 24-21 semifinal victory over Vale Saturday at Caldera High School.

The No. 3-seeded Lancers (11-1) will face top-seeded Siuslaw (11-0) of Florence for the Class 3A state title next Saturday. The Vikings outlasted No. 5 La Pine 28-26 Saturday at Cottage Grove High School.

South Umpqua last reached a state football championship game in 1981, a Class AA finale which ended in a 0-0 tie against Siuslaw.

With the game tied 21-21 late in the fourth quarter, the Lancers’ Tanner Dobeck sacked Vale quarterback Tanner Steele for a 10-yard loss, forcing a punt to set up South Umpqua’s game-winning drive.

“I had been working on (Jackson Schaffeld) the whole game. I saw the opening, and I took it,” Dobeck said of the momentum-swinging sack in the final two minutes of the game.

That sack resulted in an ankle injury to Dobeck, who did not return to the game.

“At the end of the day, we came to play,” Dobeck said.

Late in the third quarter, No. 7 Vale tied the game at 21-21 when Steele ran 8 yards for a touchdown with 24 seconds remaining.

After a South Umpqua punt on its first possession of the fourth quarter, the Lancers poked the ball out of the arms of Vale’s Nathan Kimball, and South Umpqua’s Caj Simmons corralled the fumble at the Vale 42-yard line, helping set up the game-winning field goal.

“I’m super proud of them,” Lancers head coach Steve Stebbins said. “They’ve been incredible. I told them after the game that they drive me nuts sometimes, but today they did a great job.”

South Umpqua came out firing, with quarterback Jace Johnson connecting with cousin Kade Johnson on a 64-yard pass play, helping set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Simmons in the first quarter, but Vale answered with a 34-yard scoring pass from Steele to John Wolfe.

A 45-yard TD pass from Jace Johnson to Andrew Christensen pushed the Lancers to a 14-7 lead in the second quarter, and Vale responded with a 2-yard TD run by Steele to tie the game at 14-all.

A 6-yard TD pass from Johnson to Christensen staked South Umpqua to a 21-14 lead at halftime.

Vale pulled even on an 8-yard TD run by Steele, ultimately tying the game at 21-21.

Kimball was the game’s leading rusher, tallying 93 yards on 18 carries as the Vikings gained 261 on the ground as a team. Eli Aldred had five carries for 78 yards and Steele finished with 31 net rushing yards after being sacked three times for 32 lost yards.

South Umpqua was limited to just 49 yards rushing, while Johnson passed for 211 yards on 15-for-30 passing with an interception. Isaac Real caught six passes for 55 yards and Christensen had five grabs for 75 yards.

The Lancers and Vikings will square off for the state championship at Cottage Grove High School. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m.

Vale 7 7 7 0 — 21

S. Umpqua 7 14 0 3 — 24

First Quarter

SU — Simmons 1 run (Moros kick)

V — Wolfe 34 pass from Steele (Haueter kick)

Second Quarter

SU — Christensen 45 pass from J. Johnson (Moros kick)

V — Steele 2 run (Haueter kick)

SU — Christensen 6 pass from J. Johnson (Moros kick)

Third Quarter

V — Steele 8 run (Haueter kick)

Fourth Quarter

SU — Moros 28 field goal

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Vale, Kimball 18-93; E. Aldred 5-78; Steele 18-31; McBride 6-(-7). South Umpqua, Simmons 13-28; J. Johnson 6-26; Christensen 1-0; Jenks 2-0; Real 2-(-5).

PASSING — Vale, Steele 9-11-1, 100. South Umpqua, J. Johnson 15-30-1, 211; K. Johnson 1-1-0, 21.

RECEIVING — Vale, Wolfe 6-65; Stepleton 2-13; E. Aldred 1-22. South Umpqua, Real 6-55; Christensen 5-75; Simpson 2-24; Simmons 2-14; K. Johnson 1-64.

TACKLES — Vale, Crane 7; Schaffeld 7; Kurata 6; McBride 5; Steele 4; E. Aldred 4; Cummings 4; Wolfe 3; Lamb 3; Friend 3; Stepleton 2; Norton 1; Kimball 1; Tolman 1; Team 1. South Umpqua, Burnett 8; Dobeck 7; Simmons 7; K. Johnson 6; Jenks 6; Real 6; Cole 5; Christensen 4; Gosselin 4; Ferch 3; Bauer 3; Logan 2; White 2; Reedy 2; Lussier 1, Brown 1.

Donovan Brink can be reached at dbrink@nrtoday.com and 541-957-4219.

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Donovan Brink is the cops and courts reporter for The News-Review.

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