By K.J.M. SINGLETON
The Orange County Register
BREA - The empire struck back Friday night at Brea Olinda. Valencia ended Orange Lutheran's dominance of the Empire League with a 25-14 victory. Orange Lutheran (8-1, 3-1), the county's No. 3 team, hadn't lost an Empire League game since joining the league four years ago. By running the ball, Valencia (8-1, 3-1) rolled the credits on Lutheran's streak that started long, long ago.
"We knew we had to play our best game against them," Valencia coach Mike Marrujo said. "We did. We were solid on both sides of the ball. This is best I've seen this team play." The Tigers didn't save the best for last. Valencia used a sweet 16-play opening drive to take a 7-0 lead with 5:36 remaining in the first half. The Tigers controlled the first half with a time-consuming offense.
"They did a tremendous job on offense in the first half," Lutheran coach Jim Kunau said. "We barely had two possessions in the first half." Valencia isn't the king of the Empire League quite yet. There is a three-way tie atop the Empire League (Kennedy, Valencia and Orange Lutheran). Each team has one loss.
Ray Magee's 62-yard catch from quarterback Luis Cruz (8 for 14 for 151 yards) with 3:01 remaining in the fourth iced the game. Magee's touchdown catch put the score at 25-14. "I would single out (Magee) but this was a team win," Marrujo said. "(Magee was) just a big player making a big play," Kunau said.
Valencia kicker DJ Russellhit two field goals (35, 37), the second of which gave the Tigers a 19-7 lead with 10:04 remaining in the third. Wes Fletcher was the game's leading rusher. He ran for 103 yards on 22 carries. The Lancers played stout defense in the second half but couldn't summon enough offense. The Tiger defense and several penalties prevented Lutheran from the end zone.
Lancers quarterback Aaron Corpcompleted 10 of 20 passes for 109 yards and ran for 24 more. Lutheran was down, 16-7, when Corp was intercepted by Jeremiah Rodriguez on the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Ricky Pemasa intercepted a Cruz pass with 2:23 left in the third. "They just outplayed and outcoached us," Kunau said. "They deserve all the credit in the world." And the empire.
Valencia 7 9 3 6 - 25
OLu 0 7 0 7 - 14
Val - Fletcher 4 run (Russell kick)
Val - Torres 35 from Cruz (kick failed)
OL - Davis 11 from Corp (Rammelsberg kick)
Val - FG Russell 35
Val - FG Russell 37
OL - Corp 1 run
Val - Magee 62 pass from Cruz (kick blocked)
Rushing- Val, Fletcher 22-103, Torres 9-41; OL, Pemesa 11-32, Corp 7-24
Passing- Val, Cruz 8-14-1-151; OL, Corp 10-20-1-109
Receiving- Val, Magee 4-82, Torres 2-41; OL, Cadreau 5-75, Ayles 2-15