The ninth-ranked Vikings jumped out to a 20-0 first-quarter lead, which was more than enough against punchless Avila to claim a 41-10 Homecoming victory. However, for the third straight game, Valley didn't demonstrate the type of inspired performance that had marked its run to the NAIA semifinals the previous two seasons.
The Vikings scored on the game's opening drive, which senior Jonathan Durham's 26-yard return of a short kick set up.
Sophomore Chris White's 26-yard bootleg on fourth down and 4 yards to go led to a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Robert Holmes on the next play.
White hit junior Scott Humphrey with a 43-yard pass to again move within striking range two series later, a 2-yard run by Holmes -- who would rush for 112 yards to win the 38th Ted Chitwood Award for outstanding senior player -- making it 13-0 midway through the first period.
The first of two interceptions by junior Moamoa Palepale was followed by a 10-play, 62-yard drive capped by senior Javion Jones' 25-yard TD reception.
However, Valley's first-team offense didn't score again, stumbling through the next two quarters as White -- who had thrown only three interceptions through the first six games of the season -- was picked off four times.
One of those went through a receiver's hands and off a defender's helmet, snagged by sophomore Jesse Richardson.
That led to the Eagles' only first-half score, on a 26-yard field goal by sophomore Andrew Korth, but only after a roughing the passer penalty negated a pick by junior Corey Anderson.
The Vikings extended their lead with a pair of third-quarter touchdowns, neither produced by the offense. Senior Soane Sevelo returned an interception 30 yards for a score and freshman Theron "Junior" Allen went the 85-yard distance with a punt return.
Valley's second-team offense produced a nine-play, 67-yard drive during the fourth quarter, led by red-shirt freshman Paul Wayne Thomas of Marshall -- who contributed a 15-yard run. Four straight carries by freshman Ethan Leigh covered the remaining 31 yards, including the last 3 for a touchdown.
An errant punt snap set up Avila (2-6, 2-6 HAAC) at the MVC 24-yard line late in the game, from which it took only three plays to score on junior Damien Collins' 6-yard run.
It was a functional enough display for the Vikings (6-1, 6-1), who ran for 273 yards, held a 26-9 edge in first downs and controlled the ball for 41 of 60 minutes.
Yet, with a rejuvenated Baker squad awaiting a showdown on its turf Saturday, it left for considerable room for improvement if Valley is going to make a third straight post-season run.