COWICHE - Five turnovers were too much to overcome for the Mabton High School football team last Friday night.
The Class 'B' Vikings, playing up a division against the Highland Scotties, ended up dropping the non-league game by a 27-7 count.
Mabton Coach D.J. Search said his team can't expect to win a game coughing up the ball that many times, especially when they're playing a Class 'A' team.
"We had five fumbles and lost three of them," Search said. "You throw in the two interceptions...well, it was too much for us to come back from."
It appeared from the outset that Mabton was going to give the Scotties all they could handle. On the opening drive of the game, which started from their own 20, the Vikes marched the ball down to Highland's 42-yard line, from where Mabton QB Ryan Harris hooked up with Pablo Sanchez on a touchdown throw.
"That was big," said Search. "It was an excellent start."
Highland countered, though, on the ensuing drive. Jacob Buchanan, who led all rushers in the game with 163 yards, capped off the Scotties' opening drive with a 21-yard scamper into the end zone. The PAT that followed squared the contest at 7-all.
The Scotties scored again in the opening quarter, when Highland's punt return squad burst through Mabton's line and blocked the kick. Highland recovered the loose pigskin in the end zone for its second TD of the night.
Highland took a 20-7 lead in the second quarter when one of its defenders picked off a pass from Harris and raced 48 yards to pay dirt.
The only other score Highland could muster against the Vikings was a one-yard TD run by Buchanan, that coming in the third quarter.
Despite Buchanan, who is the Valley's 1A rushing leader this season, gaining 163 yards on the ground on 29 carries, Search felt his club did an admirable job against the scatback type runner.
"Our defensive line actually did a pretty good job Friday," Search said. "There were seven times we tackled Buchanan in the back field."
Search also pointed out that his defensive unit limited Highland's quarterback to just 27 aerial yards, on 6-of-10 passing.
Offensively, Mabton moved the ball at a better clip than did the Scotties. The Vikings gained 207 offensive yards, compared to Highland's 197 total yards. Most of the Mabton yardage came on the ground. Alex Zavala was the Vikes' leading rusher, picking his way through the Highland defenders for 67 yards on 15 totes. Ray Elizondo added a 33-yard rushing performance for the Vikes on eight carries, and Sanchez tallied 26 yards on nine touches. Through the air, Harris threw for 75 yards on 3-of-14 passing.
Search gives much of the credit for Mabton's offensive prowess to his offensive line.
"They played pretty well," he said of his linemen.
The bottom line, though, was turnovers. Any time Mabton got something started, the Scotties somehow came away with a takeaway.
In looking ahead to this coming Friday's game at home against Soap Lake, Search said his team will have to play assignment defense to shut down the visitors.
"Soap Lake is a lot like Manson," he said. "They play a Wing-T offense, where there's lots of misdirection and they pull their guards a lot."
Search said a victory over Soap Lake this coming Friday, coupled with a win at Entiat the following Friday, will give his Vikes (4-2, 5-3) the No. 2 seed into the South/Central 'B' League playoffs.