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Valencia wins, sets up battle of unbeatens
PLACENTIA – Valencia needed something.
Quarterback Tyler Switzer missed on eight of his first 11 pass attempts, running backs Darren Sandoval and Jahquon Speed mustered minimal gains on the ground, and after punting on their first three possessions, the Tigers turned over the ball on downs deep in enemy territory.
Then, Sandoval and Speed got going, and in the second quarter, Switzer ended consecutive drives with touchdown passes. Valencia built a three-score lead by halftime, and beat visiting University, 37-14, Friday night in the first round of the Southwest Division playoffs.
Valencia (11-0) plays Villa Park (11-0) on Friday at El Modena High. The Tigers and Spartans, who beat Troy, 48-19, on Friday, are two of the county’s five unbeaten teams.
“We struggled a bit there in the first half,” Sandoval said. “But we picked it up in the second half. I wasn’t reading my holes as well as I should’ve been reading them, but our offensive line kept making great holes all game.
“Our defense is there. We sometimes just have to work on our offense.”
Switzer finished with 181 passing yards, and receiver Jacob Briggs caught a pair of touchdowns.
Both Sandoval and Speed rushed for more than 100 yards. Both running backs scored in the third quarter: Speed on a 29-yard run and Sandoval on an 8-yarder.
University (8-3) twice cut its deficit to 10 after halftime; Matt Abellaneda and Andre Campbell with touchdowns on consecutive drives. But Valencia answered both scores with points.
“It’s important to come back like that,” Sandoval said. “As we play later in the playoffs, in CIF, we have to prepare for that. We have to play every half like we played the second half tonight.”
University quarterback Neil Boudreau passed for 122 yards and connected with seven different receivers. Alex Pourdanesh led all Trojans pass-catchers with 42 receiving yards.
Valencia is in the Southwest Division quarterfinals for the second consecutive year. The 2014 Tigers lost to lower-seeded Capistrano Valley, a premature exit Sandoval said will surely fuel this week of practice.
“Every minute counts,” he said.
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