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Valencia High School
Valencia High School

Valencia bounces back 28-20

By DAN ALBANO
Photo by MARK AVERY
The Orange County Register

ANAHEIM - Wes Fletcher ran for 212 yards and Valencia's defense made two key stops in the second half to lead the Tigers to a 28-20 victory against host Western in a duel between Southern Division heavyweights Thursday night. Tight end Andrew Zamora grabbed a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Marcus Beckman with 3:35 left in the fourth quarter as Valencia (2-1) took a 28-20 lead. Defensive back D.J. Russell then sealed the victory with an interception near his 40-yard line about a minute later.

Valencia forced three turnovers - leading to eight points - in defeating Western (1-1), the top-ranked team in the Southern Division. The Tigers' defense earlier held on a fourth-and-5 from their 25 with 29 seconds left in the third quarter. It was a strikingly improved defensive performance from No.4 Valencia compared to last week's 36-18 loss to Villa Park. In that game, the Spartans racked up 432 yards rushing.

Western's double-wing offense produced 300 total yards rushing Thursday. "The defense stepped up," Valencia coach Mike Marrujo said. "They (Western) have some quick guys." Defensive tackle Mark Luna added three tackles for losses in his first action on the line after playing linebacker in the Tigers' first two games. Defensive back Kelli Jackson intercepted a pass at his 4 with 30 seconds left in the first half and also recovered a fumble.

Fletcher scored three touchdowns and was strong from start to finish. He recovered a fumble in the end zone for the Tigers' first score but then carried the ball eight times for 65 yards on Valencia's final TDdrive. "He kept getting stronger," Western coach Toby Howell said of Fletcher. "We had our chances. They probably wore us down a little in the end." Fletcher, a 6-foot, 195-pound junior, kept running hard despite some hard collisions with Western defensive tackle Andrew Iupati (6-2, 280).

Valencia 7 8 6 7 - 28
Western 7 0 7 6 - 20

Wes - Bodiford 1 run (Celis kick)
Val - Fletcher fumble recovery in end zone (Russell kick)
Val - Fletcher 7 run (Fletcher run)
Val - Fletcher 6 run (Russell kick)
Wes - Bodiford 1 run (Celis kick)
Wes - Carr 2 run (kick failed)
Val - Zamora 3 pass from Beckman (Russell kick)

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS
Rushing- Val, Fletcher 29-212, Schmidt 3-6; Wes, Bodiford 16-118, Gonzalez 12-55
Passing- Val, Beckman 8-11-0-111; Wes, Bodiford 2-6-2-24
Receiving- Val, Zamora 3-39, Russell 2-32 Wes, Gonzalez 1-13, Griffin 1-11
Records:Val 0-0, 2-1; Wes 0-0, 1-1

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