October 31, 2014
BY KENNY CONNOLLY STAFF WRITER
PLACENTIA ♦ As the rain clouds settled over Valencia High on Friday evening, quarterback Pat Godoy and the Tigers offense trotted to their 20-yard line with just over two minutes remaining in a tie ball game. Executing the two-minute drill in practice is one thing. Driving down the field in light showers with an Empire League championship on the line is something different.
Behind its unwavering three year starter, Valencia drove 60 yards on 10 plays to the Tustin 20-yard line. Junior kicker Mason Paine capped a wild night by booting a 37-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining to give the Tigers a 39-36 victory over Tustin in a back-and-forth slugfest.
With the win, Valencia (8-1, 4-0) earned its first Empire League title since the 2007 season. The Tigers can try to finish with a perfect 5-0 league clip next Friday when they take on Pacifica in the regular-season finale. Tustin (5-4, 2-2) can grab the Empire League’s third guaranteed playoff spot if it can defeat Kennedy, which has an identical record, in next Saturday’s finale.
“It was a great win for us,” Valencia coach Mike Marrujo said after the game. “Tustin’s a tough team. They’ve got a lot of great athletes.”
The Tillers held a 15-14 lead at halftime thanks in large part to receiver George Wilson, who caught four passes for 133 yards, including touchdowns of 40 and 56 yards. Both scores, however, were followed by missed extra point attempts.
Valencia rebounded in the second half, scoring on its first three drives to regain control. With 7:11 left in the fourth quarter, Godoy capped a 10-play, 65-yard drive with a 2-yard keeper, giving the Tigers their largest lead at 36-21.
Wilson did not have a single reception in the second half, but, trailing by 15, Tustin quarterback Alema Pilimai guided the Tillers 71 yards in a little more than three minutes. Receiver Tyler Noble capped the nine-play drive with a 10-yard sweep, cutting the Valencia lead to 36-28 with 3:17 remaining. On the ensuing kickoff, Paine muffed a pooch kick, allowing Tustin to recover at the Valencia 45. Pilimai’s third touchdown pass of the game came seconds later, when Elijah Asiata took a screen pass 40 yards for the score.
A successful Robert Washington run on the 2-point conversion tied the score at 36 with 2:20 remaining, setting the stage for Godoy and Valencia’s offense. “It’s unbelievable,” Godoy said. “(Mason) did a good job. He was confident (before the kick).”