PLACENTIA - Valencia back-up quarterback Tyler Switzer threw an 8-yard
touchdown pass to Anthony Larrasquito on fourth down with 1:29 remaining,
allowing the Tigers to escape with a 14-10 victory over Kennedy on Friday night
in the Empire League finale at Valencia High. The Tigers (8-2, 5-1) claimed the
league´s No. 2 seed in the CIF-SS Southwest Division playoffs.
Kennedy (5-5, 3-3) came 90 seconds short of earning a playoff bid. A win over Valencia would have catapulted the Fighting Irish into the No. 2 spot. Instead, they find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture.
Kennedy held a lead at halftime because of Justin Minor´s 50-yard Hail Mary to Joe Lovetere. The senior brought the ball down in the end zone with no time left in the second quarter, giving the Fighting Irish a 10-7 advantage.
Valencia starting quarterback Patrick Godoy injured his left ankle midway through the second quarter and watched the remainder of the game from the sideline, limping noticeably. With Switzer, the Tigers turned the ball over three times and never got into a rhythm offensively.
"The defense shut (Kennedy) down in the second half," Mike Marrujo said. "We had to have that. And we made enough big plays late to get it done."
Valencia´s last drive started on the Kennedy 31 after a 15-yard punt return from Chach Ben-Yisrael. The Tigers drove to the Fighting Irish 8 and were faced with a fourth-and-2. Rather than try for a field goal, Marrujo went for the win, and won the gamble.
The kids really played their tails off," Kennedy coach Brit Johnson said. "It´s a football game and it hurts right now, but hopefully the kids take it as a learning experience and realize that good things will come from this."