By TIM BURT
IRVINE - Irvine tried to devise a plan to contain Valencia senior running back Wes Fletcher on Friday night. But like so many teams this season, the Vaqueros had little success. Fletcher rushed for 278 yards on 32 carries and scored three touchdowns to lead the Tigers to a 38-14 victory over Irvine in the second round of the CIF-SS Southern Division playoffs at Irvine High. Valencia (8-2-1) advances into the semifinals next week against the winner of the Anaheim-Cypress game to be played Saturday.
"It was probably one of our best games this year," Fletcher said. "Everyone doubted us, but we just played smash-mouth football as Valencia does." Irvine (8-3) scored on its opening drive when quarterback D.J. Crumlich connected with Chris Hong on a 36-yard touchdown pass with 10:08 left in the first quarter. But Valencia took over after that, scoring on its next four drives.
Fletcher scored on a 1-yard TD run midway through the first quarter to tie the score. Then, he scored on runs of 23 and 3 yards in the second quarter to help the Tigers take a 21-7 lead. Jesse Sandoval kicked a 25-yard field goal late in the second quarter to give Valencia a 24-7 lead. "It´s not just Fletcher, it´s their O-line," Irvine coach Terry Henigan said. "I might have run through some of those holes. He´s a great running back but up front they took it to us and we knew we were going to have a hard time with them.
"They´ve got the complete package." With Fletcher dominating the game, Valencia quarterback Dave Pina only passed twice, completing both attempts for 25 yards. Crumlich completed 20 of 34 passes for 215 yards but Kelii Jackson intercepted two of his passes. Nate Jeffries hauled in 11 catches for 91 yards for Irvine.