Kennedy earns big win over Valencia


PLACENTIA – These are the types of wins Kennedy coach Sean Clark hopes he can circle and look back on in a few years, pinpointing the noticeable growth from his program.

Having not beaten Valencia in any of the past eight seasons, the Fighting Irish used senior quarterback Christian Rodriguez’s 289-yard, two touchdown performance to knock off the host Tigers, 24-14, Thursday night in an Empire League game at Valencia High.

Kennedy (5-2, 2-0) has reeled off four consecutive wins, setting up a huge showdown with league favorite Tustin next Thursday for what should be sole possession of first place in the league standings.

“It’s special,” Clark said of topping the Tigers. “Valencia has been the gold standard of the Empire League for a long time.”

They’re a tough, physical team. They are where we want to go as a program, so it’s pretty special for our kids.”

The Fighting Irish took a 10-0 lead into halftime, scoring on a 36-yard screen pass from Rodriguez to Gabriel Solorzano on the first drive of the game, and a 33-yard field goal from Rodriguez in the second quarter.

Quarterback Sam Lydic and Valencia (1-6, 1-1) finally got rolling in the third quarter. Lydic’s 5-yard keeper capped a 12-play, 70-yard drive to open the second half. His 72-yard scamper on the Tigers’ next series set up Jahquon Speed’s 9-yard TD run, putting Valencia up, 14-10.

“It’s not surprising to me that they bounced back the way things were going against us,” Clark added. “These kids have that type of resilience.”

But Kennedy scored the final 14 points of the evening in the fourth quarter. Ramirez hooked up with Solorzano for a 39-yard score.

When Valencia turned the ball over on down deep in its own territory with two minutes to play, Fighting Irish running back Alonza Pineda sealed the victory with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.

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