BY DAVID DELGADO
CONTRIBUTING WRITER OC REGISTER
ANAHEIM ♦ The Valencia Tigers certainly looked the part of Empire League favorite in their dominating, 44-7 win over Western Saturday night. The Tigers, who rushed for 270 yards, made quick work of the Pioneers by establishing a punishing ground game from the start.
Strong offensive line play was the catalyst for everything Valencia had success with, enabling the running back trio of Mario Van Dam, Darren Sandoval and Jahquon Speed to do much of the damage to the Pioneer defense.
Valencia quarterback Pat Godoy ran for 75 first half yards and accounted for five touchdowns (three rushing and two passing). The Tigers started quickly when Sandoval scored from two yards out to give his team an 8-0 lead with 6:57 to play in the first quarter. On the Tigers second drive of the game, Godoy broke a 45-yard run giving Valencia the ball deep inside Western territory and, two plays later, he scored on an eight-yard touchdown run.
Western (1-6, 0-2) faced a 16-point hole entering the second quarter but put together an efficient 13-play drive that finally got them on the board and was capped with one-yard QB sneak by Nick Zarate on fourth-and-goal.
Moments later, after a failed onside kick by the Pioneers, Valencia would answer right back when Godoy hit Watkins for 41-yard pass that put the ball at the Western 7. Godoy scored on the next play, giving the Tigers a 22-7 lead. On the final play of the first half, Godoy hit a streaking Jake Watkins for a 56-yard score, giving Valencia a 37-7 lead at the break. Watkins finished with two catches that went for 97 yards.
Valencia (6-1 2-0) will host Cypress Friday in a battle for first place in the Empire League.