SVC hangs on to win wild opener


IRVINE - After the fast-break pace of the first half for Saddleback Valley Christian’s football team, it seemed unlikely the game would come down to the last defensive possession.

However, that’s exactly where the Warriors found themselves Thursday night.

After a 60-yard punt from Cade Henjum that backed Northwood to its own 11-yard line, the SVC defense allowed Northwood to move the ball to the SVC 30, but the defense helped the Warriors seal the 44-37, season-opening road victory over Northwood at Portola High

“We have a lot of guys going both ways for us right now and we got gassed (in the second half),” SVC coach Brendan Chambers said. “Our biggest thing in the second half was to keep (quarterback) Cade (Henjum) healthy, but let him do this thing and save our energy for the defensive side.”

SVC led, 37-14, at halftime, but Northwood came out in the second half with a renewed approach, running straight at SVC, trying to wear it down.

Northwood got within striking distance at 37-30 with a 3-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion run from Jason Pontillas early in the third quarter.

Henjum responded with a 38-yard touchdown to Marc Audet to close the third quarter. The lone touchdown in the fourth was a 9-yard touchdown run from Northwood’s Isaiah Easton to cut the score to 44-37, and that’s where it would end.

“They were gashing us with the inside run,” Chambers said. “We got off to such a big lead early, we just needed a couple of stops at the end and they were able to do that for us.”

SVC posted a 15-1 record last season, winning the CIF-SS East Valley title and advancing to the CIF State championship game.

The Warriors opened the game by scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions to take a 24-0 lead, unfortunately they missed the extra point on each attempt.

Pontillas finished with 190 rushing yards for Northwood and three touchdowns.

Northwood faces Kennedy next week, while Saddleback Valley Christian takes on Crean Lutheran.

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