By TOM CONNOLLY
Special to OCVarsity.com
ANAHEIM - Issac Dominguez rushed for 170 yards and scored three touchdowns to lead Valencia to a 42-17 Empire League victory over Loara on Friday at Glover Stadium. The Tigers (8-2, 4-1) amassed nearly 300 yards rushing and 22 first downs, and the victory earns them a second-place finish in league and a playoff berth. The Saxons, after winning five of their first six games, dropped their last four and finished 5-5 and 1-4.
"I couldn't ask for a better offensive line than I have," said Dominguez, who also caught a pass and recorded two sacks. "Josh Gamboa, Nick Martinez, Keifer Neal, Junior Gauta, Travis Gipson and Shane Reekstin make us successful because they never take a play off."
Leading 14-10 at halftime, the Tigers notched two TDs in the third quarter to build a 28-10 lead. Valencia recovered an onside kick to start the second half and quickly drove 49 yards in eight plays. Dominguez capped the scoring drive with a 1-yard TD run. In the final minute of the quarter, the Tigers struck again. Karsen Garcia got behind the Saxons secondary and caught a 53-yard touchdown pass from Dave Pina. Dominguez and Matt Gonzalez added fourth- quarter touchdown runs to seal the victory.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Tigers drove 80 yards in 14 plays to take a 7-0 lead. Pina scored on a 1-yard run to give Valencia the lead. After a 43-yard field goal by Loara kicker Jonathan Negrete, Dominguez capped another 880-yard scoring drive with a short TD run giving the Tigers a 14-3 lead. The Saxons battled back and drove the length of the field in the final two minutes of the quarter and scored to trim the Valencia lead to 14-10 at halftime. Jesse Ben-Ron hauled in a 9-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Meraz with nine seconds left in the half.
Anthony Bautista rushed for 93 yards and a TD, and Howard Gauta caught five passes for the Saxons. "Some folks didn't pick us to make the playoffs this season but here we are," Valencia coach Mike Marrujo said.