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Santa Ana Valley pounds its way past Magnolia
ANAHEIM – With both Santa Ana Valley and Magnolia sitting at 4-0 in the Orange League standings and the league championship on the line Friday, the Valley football team went into the matchup with one thing in mind: To wear their opponent out.
Valley running back Alex Hernandez was the focal point for the Falcons, as he has been all season. The senior carried the ball 44 times for 316 yards and two touchdowns, helping Valley pound its way to a league championship with a 14-7 victory at Western High.
Magnolia's second-place finish in league earned an automatic playoff berth.
Valley coach Larry Mohr said he drew some inspiration for his game plan from Stanford's win over Oregon on Thursday night.
“We had the same philosophy as Stanford had against Oregon,” Mohr said.
Hernandez scored his first touchdown on a 1-yard run at the 8:09 mark of the first quarter, and that would be the only score of the first half as Valley took a 7-0 advantage into the break.
The Falcons (7-2-1, 5-0) came out in the third quarter and forced Magnolia into a three-and-out on the Sentinels' first possession, then capitalized on the strong defensive stand with another score from Hernandez on a 6-yard run.
Mohr said he couldn't have asked for more from his running back.
“He's the best player in the league,” Mohr said. “He's been doing that all year. He played defense on the last drive and covered (Jamal) Scott and he couldn't get open.”
Magnolia cut the Valley lead to seven on a 4-yard touchdown run from Scott with 8:19 left to play, and had another shot to extend the game after Valley kicker Eddie Cabrera missed a 26-yard field-goal attempt when it bounced off the right upright.
Magnolia (5-5, 4-1) started its final drive with 2:20 to play on its own 20-yard line and quarterback Adeel Akbar completed five of his next 10 pass attempts to put the Sentinels on the Valley 48-yard line with 1:10 to play.
With Magnolia facing a fourth-and-6 from the 48, Akbar's throw sailed just over the hands of receiver William Wyatt. That allowed Valley to take over on downs and secure the win.
“We can play defense, too.” Mohr said. “We've been showing people we can play defense.”
The Falcons defense held Scott to just 30 yards rushing, while Akbar went 17-of-29 for 149 yards.
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