By DAN ALBANO
The Orange County Register
GARDEN GROVE Pacifica entered its Empire League
game against Valencia on Thursday having posted consecutive, one-point
victories. And going back to their season opener, the Mariners had three
one-point victories overall. But against the Tigers, that trend finally ended as
Valencia rallied from an early two-touchdown deficit to post a 21-20 victory at
Bolsa Grande High. The difference proved to be an extra point Valencia blocked
1:05 into the fourth quarter.
Valencia´s defense held for the last time as Robby Gomezsacked Pacifica quarterback Raymond Huizarfor a 10-yard loss to the Mariners´ 41 on a third-and-7. Pacifica (5-2, 1-1) used its final timeout with 3:36 left and punted the ball. Valencia (5-1-1, 2-0) then ran out the final 3:27 thanks to five consecutive runs by Wes Fletcher, who finished with 184 yards rushing and two touchdowns. "We just hung in there and came back and made some plays," Valencia coach Mike Marrujo said.
Valencia marched on its opening possession of the second half. After an illegal substitution penalty against Pacifica on fourth down kept the drive alive, the Tigers drove 83 yards for a score. Fletcher capped the drive by turning the corner for a 13-yard touchdown run on a third-and-1 with 7:12 left. Valencia limited Pacifica to only three plays in the third quarter but the Mariners struck on their second play of the fourth as Tyler Ortiztook a crossing pass from Huizar and turned it up field en route to a 70-yard touchdown reception with 10:55 left. The critical missed extra point came next. Valencia scored twice in the final 3:21 of the first half to tie the score, 14-14.