By TIM TUTTLE CONTRIBUTING WRITER OCRegister
PLACENTIA * Resurgent Valencia pried open the door to a possible Empire League championship with a 28-20 victory over Tustin on Friday on the Tigers’ field. Valencia snapped Tustin’s six-game winning streak and tied the Tillers on top of the league with 3-1 records.
“When we were 0-5, we could have folded and they didn’t,” first-year Valencia coach Shawn Racobs said. “If we beat Cypress next week, a very good team, we’re Empire League champions.”
Valencia running back Jahquon Speed rushed for 207 yards on 25 carries. His 70yard, off-tackle, run-to-daylight blast in the fourth quarter for a touchdown put the Tigers (3-6) ahead 28-20.
“Speed did an outstanding job,” Racobs said. “He exploded when we needed him to and read the holes for those tough yards. And he played every down on defense.” The Tigers defense had to contend with Tustin star runner KC Carr, Orange County’s leading rusher entering the game. Carr had 119 yards on 25 carries including 5- and 6-yard touchdown runs. He also caught two passes for 43 yards.
Tied at 14 at halftime, Valencia drove 77 yards on nine plays for a touchdown on its opening possession of the third period to take a 21-14 lead. Michael Carrasco spun out of the Tillers’ grasp at the line of scrimmage and ran 16 yards for the score. Marvis Burgos kicked the PAT.
Tustin (7-2) struck back with a 67-yard scoring march on four plays. Quarterback Sagel Simon found tight end Gregory Kimball wide open down the middle for a 57-yard gain to the Valencia 15. Carr ran in for the touchdown from the 6 two plays later. The PAT was wide and Valencia led, 2120.