By LOU PONSI
ANAHEIM - Valencia made some huge defensive plays in its Empire League game against Kennedy on Thursday at Western High School. But none was bigger than the fumble recovery by Omar Perez in the final minute of the game, which preserved the Tigers´ 17-14 victory. Jesse Sandoval´s 43-yard field goal with 7:57 left in the game broke a 14-14 tie.
The Fighting Irish later took possession on their 40 with 2:20 left and advanced to the Valencia 23 when Perez´s fumble recovery with 39 seconds left ended Kennedy´s hopes for a comeback. The referees held a brief meeting to determine if the ball had been fumbled by Kennedy running back D.J. Boulton.
The victory keeps playoff hopes alive for the Tigers (3-5, 1-2), who have games left vs. Loara on Nov. 6 and Pacifica on Nov. 12. Kennedy (4-4, 1-2) plays its final two regular season games against Katella and Cypress.
"The kids played very very hard," Valencia coach Mike Marrujo. "The defense played spectacular, and they got turnovers. That was the key to the game."
Tyler Berman and Matt Gonzalez each had interceptions for the Tigers. The Tigers´ Steve Logovii led all rushers with 163 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.