By MATTHEW JAMES
FOR THE REGISTER
PLACENTIA The solid effort of Valencia running back Gabe Perez was enough for the Tigers to defeat their crosstown rival El Dorado, 14-7, in the 41st annual "Battle of the Bell" at Valencia High on Friday. In the process, the Tigers (2-2) reclaimed the coveted bell from the Golden Hawks (1-3) and improved their alltime record over El Dorado to 21-20."This is a great game for us (and) for our community," Valencia coach Mike Marrujo said. "It´s just a great win."
The Golden Hawks´ defense came out strong in the first quarter with sacks by seniors Levi Sweet and Bryton Jarvis and solid coverage from the secondary. A missed field goal by Tigers kicker Jesse Gonzales left the game scoreless after one period of play.
Gabe Perez´s 2-yard touchdown run gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 10:20 remaining in the first half. He would come in to score again on a 1-yard drive with 8:16 left in the third quarter, bringing his total to 24 carries for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
Valencia junior Tom Torres rushed six times for 24 yards and senior Jesse Godoy picked up 18 yards on five carries while also completing 5 of 9 attempts for 80 yards. El Dorado had the chance to tie the game with the ball on the 1-yard line and less than a minute remaining in the third quarter. But the Tigers´ defense was able to hold off the Hawks and senior Hayden Dunn who rushed 14 times for 66 yards. Dunn picked up El Dorado´s only touchdown on a 7-yard run to tie the score with just more than 2 minutes remaining in the first half.
Senior Cory Wildhagen lead the Golden Hawks in rushing with 13 carries for 72 yards. Wildhagen also completed 7 of 13 attempts for 70 yards, including a 25-yard pass to junior Kyle Wilson as the seconds ticked off the clock in the third quarter.
"The defense made some big plays on that goal line stand," Marrujo said. "That was a tough situation. It was a team win."
Valencia will face off in its first league game of the year against Kennedy (1-3) next Saturday at Western High. El Dorado will look to turn their season around as they kick off their league games versus Canyon (2-2) on Friday at Valencia High.