PLACENTIA The versatility of the Tustin offense was on display Friday night. The eighth-ranked Tillers, known for their grind-it-out, ground-and pound offense, took care of a persistent Valencia team Friday night, scoring fast and deliberately. Tustin (6-0, 2-0) had a pair of 80-yard touchdown runs, a 40-yard interception return for a score and for good measure, a 17-play, 61-yard scoring drive in the third quarter, helping to the Tillers a 49-21 Empire League victory over the Tigers (3-3, 1-1).
"They´re a tough defensive team," Tustin coach Myron Miller said of Valencia. "We´re doing some new things on offense. We broke some nice options ... I´m pleased with the offense." That is an understatement. Through the season´s first six games, the Tillers are averaging 42.6 points a game. Tustin didn´t crack the 40-point barrier until the fourth quarter, but it came at the perfect time.
Valencia cut the Tustin lead to 35-21 on the final play of the third quarter. The Tigers then held Tustin on a fourth-and-6, but before momentum could fully swing to Valencia, Tustin linebacker Ed Tandy intercepted a pass and raced 40 yards for the touchdown and a 42-21 lead. "He´s a game-changer," Miller said of Tandy.
On the next Tustin possession, Terence Martinez raced 80 yards for a touchdown and the 49-21 lead. "I think we can get better," Martinez said. "We still have a lot of young players on the line, but with practice, we´ll get better." Martinez led the Tillers with 191 yards on 25 carries with two touchdowns. DaVonte Young also had an 80-yard touchdown run. He finished with 168 yards on 13 carries.
"Once you break the defense down, you get the big runs," Martinez said. "Threes and fours (yard gains), that´s the key ... then you can break it. "Coach Miller told us at halftime to keep pounding and pounding (on offense) and we will get them tired. That´s what our offense does." The Tillers did just that in the third quarter. Starting on their 39, the Tillers ate up time and yards, at their own pace.
Aside from a pair of 15-yard runs, the Tillers didn´t gain more than five yards on any running play, eventually moving the ball down to the Valencia 8. From there, Tustin quarterback Quinnton Roberson went in from the 8 for the score and the 35-14 lead. The drive lasted 10:26. However, on the final play of the third quarter, Valencia quarterback Jesse Godoy connected with Jake Watkins for a 22-yard touchdown pass to get to 35-21, but that was as close as the Tigers would get. "This was a game for a long time," Miller said. "They were 3-2, (Mike) Marrujo is a great coach, they were outmanned but found a way to stay in this game for a long, long time.
Valencia played without star Gabe Perez, who missed the game with an undisclosed injury. The Tillers led 14-0 midway through the first quarter. After a Tommy Torres 2-yard touchdown for Valencia, Young struck quickly for the Tillers. Young took the handoff and went 80 yards for the touchdown and a 21-7 lead. Godoy kept the Tigers within striking distance with his 9-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Easley in the second. Tustin took a 28-14 lead into halftime on Young´s 4-yard score with 2:27 remaining.