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Valencia beats Kennedy with big second half
ANAHEIM - If predicating the outcome of a high school football game was as cut-and-dry as solving a math problem, then Valencia had no chance of pulling out its Empire League opener on Saturday night.
Yet, despite losing halfback Gabe Perez because of injury in the second quarter and despite surrendering a handful of big plays defensively, the Tigers (3-2, 1-0) put together a big second half to top Kennedy, 24-13, at Western High.
"This was our biggest game of the year; the league opener," Valencia coach Mike Marrujo said. "Our guys played much better in the second half, and that's where we won the game."
Tigers quarterback Jesse Godoy threw for 235 yards and two scores, and wideout Jake Watkins hauled in nine balls for 134 yards and a touchdown as the visitors piled up almost 400 yards of total offense.
"Our kids made plays when we needed them tonight," Marrujo said. "(Jake) Watkins had a nice game and so did Jesse (Godoy). I thought our offense did a good job keeping its composure in the second half."
Trailing by three early in the third quarter, Godoy connected with a wide-open Jack Van Dam for a 66-yard score that gave the visitors the lead for good.
After Valencia's defense halted a potential go-ahead drive by Kennedy in the fourth, Watkins punctuated a drive that included three third-down conversations with a 28-yard TD grab on a fourth-and-5.
"Defensively we got a bunch of big stops in the second half," Marrujo said. "I'm proud of the way our kids kept playing."
On the Tigers' first possession of the evening, Irish defensive back Philip Anderson took an interception 75 yards the other way for the game's opening score.
After the TD, and blocked extra point, Valencia sustained a 10-play scoring drive that culminated in a 3-yard TD run by Perez.
A 23-yard field goal by Jesse Gonzalez three possessions later gave the visitors a 10-6 lead.
Late in the second quarter, Kennedy (1-4, 0-1) used two big plays to set up a 1-yard TD run by quarterback Taylor Elliott.
Irish halfback Darius Miles finished with 100 yards rushing on 20 carries.