October 24, 2014 11:46 PM
BY KENNY CONNOLLY STAFF WRITER
PLACENTIA ♦ While the Empire League title wasn’t on the line in Friday night’s highly anticipated showdown between Valencia and Cypress, overwhelming control of the league’s fate certainly was. As both Mike Marrujo and Rick Feldman suspected, the game’s outcome came down to the final drive, actually, its final play.
Unfortunately for Feldman, Cypress’ first-year coach, he’ll be asking himself one question for the foreseeable future: what if? Centurions kicker Nick Buras was unable to attempt the potential winning 36-yard field goal due to a botched exchange from long snapper to holder, allowing the Tigers to savor a hard-fought 14-13 league win at Valencia High.
“We knew it was going to be close and it was,” Marrujo said. “I thought our defense won that game for us. It was one of those whatever-it-takes-to-win kind of games.” Tied with Cypress atop the standings entering Friday night, the Tigers (7-1, 3-0) have the inside track at claiming their first Empire League crown since 2007. Valencia will host Tustin (5-3, 2-1) Friday.
“I’m just going to enjoy this one tonight,” Marrujo continued, “and worry about beating Tustin tomorrow.” Cypress’ Quinten Pounds compiled 95 yards of total offense on 16 touches. His 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was his fifth of the season, and it gave Cypress a 10-7 lead with 5:07 remaining in the first half.
Tigers quarterback Pat Godoy finished with a game-high 122 yards rushing on 12 carries. He earned 84 of those yards late in the third quarter with his team struggling to string together first downs.
Backed up in Valencia territory late in the third, Godoy dropped back to pass, avoided the Centurion rush by stepping up in the pocket, and then took off. The senior raced 84 yards for a touchdown, claiming a 14-10 lead for Valencia with 39 seconds to go before the fourth.
Cypress (6-2, 2-1) cut the lead to one point when Buras, the team’s starting quarterback, booted his second field goal from 34 yards with 6:33 remaining. The Centurions had two possessions in the final 4:45, one resulting in a three-and-out, while the other advanced 41 yards down to the Valencia 18-yard line with 3 seconds to go.
“It’s eating away at me right now because a loss isn’t just a loss to these kids anymore,” Feldman said. “These kids have worked so hard and come so far, it’s a painful ordeal. “We just left too many points out on the field.”