By NICK TAYLOR
Special to OCVarsity.com
PLACENTIA - In a bout that resembled two heavyweights slugging it out, Valencia delivered the final blow.
The host Tigers stopped Pacifica on fourth down from the 5 with 3:17 remaining, lifting Valencia to a 36-22 victory Saturday in an Empire League opener.
"It went back and forth," Valencia coach Mike Marrujo said. "I´m proud of the way we hung in there in the second half."
Valencia (5-1, 1-0), No. 2 in the CIF-SS Southwest Division, needed Ruben Escarsega´s three touchdown runs and Karsen Garcia´s 53-yard TD catch and 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to hold off Pacifica (2-4, 0-1). The Mariners rallied behind Josh Brannon´s 242 yards rushing.
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