San Juan Hills' rally too little, too late


SANTA CLARITA – San Juan Hills coach Aaron Flowers arrived at Friday’s CIF-SS West Valley Division first-round playoff game at Valencia of Valencia yearning to learn about his team.

Were the Stallions the upstarts who burst into the Orange County Top 10 in the nonleague season or the team that struggled against the South Coast League powers?

Valencia perhaps provided an answer with a convincing 38-28 victory but a spirited finish led by San Juan Hills quarterback Patrick O’Brien showed the Stallions (8-3) are a prideful group.

“They competed. It’s just in these games, if you don’t execute they way you should against good football teams, this is what is going to happen,” Flowers said. “We didn’t finish it (our season).”

Fifth-seeded Valencia (8-3) advanced to the second round to take on fourth-seeded Chino Hills, which beat Los Alamitos.

O’Brien, a Nebraska commit, scored on a 1-yard touchdown run and tossed a 2-point conversion pass to Jacob Huff with 2:42 left in the fourth to trim the Valencia’s lead to 38-28. The points prompted San Juan Hills to attempt its second onside kick of the fourth period but the Vikings recovered again and ran out the clock.

O’Brien also threw a 24-yard TD pass on fourth-down to Harrison Van Galder with 9:26 left in the fourth to cut the Stallions’ deficit to 38-20.

But the Stallions’ late surge arrived too late. After O’Brien scored on an 8-yard TD run early in the third quarter to trim Valencia’s lead to 21-14, the Vikings answered with 17 consecutive points to take control.

Valencia used a trick play to spark the run. Running back Effie Davalos threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to linebacker Jordan Grisaffi on a fourth-and-2 as the Vikings opened a 28-14 lead.

Valencia added a field goal and a 21-yard TD pass from backup quarterback Aaron Thomas to Riley Herrera to open a 38-14 lead early in the fourth.

O'Brien finished with 267 yards passing but the Vikings sacked him seven times and grabbed two interceptions. Davalos rushed for 142 yards on 25 carries.

Valencia led, 21-7, at halftime. The Vikings turned an early turnover into a touchdown and added two scores behind quarterback Cole Parkinson, who was helped off the field in the third because of an injury.

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