BENTON CITY - The Mabton Vikings football team was short-handed this past Friday when they took on the Ki-Be Bears. The result was a 31-14 non-league loss.
Twelve players were missing from the Mabton roster on Friday due to eligibility issues. This forced Mabton Coach Brandon Harting to make some adjustments and play some guys in some unfamiliar positions.
Josh Strickland took over quarterback duties for the Vikings in Friday's game. Harting said Strickland only had two days of practice at quarterback and he had some exchange issues with the center and running backs. He did iron these out by the second half, Harting said.
Mabton had several freshman players starting in the defensive back positions and Ki-Be took advantage of it. Bears' quarterback Matt Mason completed 11-of-17 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns.
In the first quarter Mason threw a touchdown pass and ran one in as the Bears built a 14-0 lead. Ki-be added a field goal in the second quarter.
The Vikings had a couple of red zone opportunities in the second quarter but both drives were stalled by fumbles. The Vikings committed seven fumbles in the game, losing four of them.
Down 17-0 at halftime, Harting said he made some defensive adjustments and identified some blocking schemes for his offensive line.
The result was a 58-yard touchdown run by Noe Gutierrez that cut Ki-Be's lead to 11 points and gave the Vikings some much needed hope.
"It was good," Harting said.
Any thoughts of a come-back were quickly dashed when Ki-Be put up two quick scores.
Mason completed a 55-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Wing to put the Bears up 24-6.
Harting said this play really hurt the Vikings. Mabton missed several tackles on the play.
Michael Salyers then hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Mason to put the game out of reach.
The Vikings scored one more time in the fourth quarter when Gutierrez rumbled in from four yards out. Strickland ran in the two-point conversion.
Strickland finished the game 1-for-2 passing for five yards. Gutierrez made the lone reception. Gutierrez also rushed for 198 yards on 22 carries.
Ki-Be's leading rusher was Matt McCallum, who ran for 96 yards on 10 carries. He also caught four passes for 87 yards.
"We battled with what we had," Harting said. "I fell that at full strength we could have beaten them. We gave all we had."
Mabton (1-3, 2-6) will travel to Cle Elum this Friday, Oct. 30, for a 7 p.m. game with the Warriors.