Whittier Christian in playoffs thanks to 42-14 triumph
CERRITOS - Quarterback Ryan Esslinger threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns while adding fourth score on the ground as Whittier Christian clinched the undisputed Olympic League championship with a 42-14 victory over Valley Christian of Cerritos on Friday night at Valley Christian High.
Esslinger was 15 of 22, leading the CIF-SS Northwest Division playoff-bound Heralds to 459 yards total offense. David Fischer also gave Whittier Christian (7-3, 4-0) a second-half boost by rushing for 114 yards on 12 carries and scoring a touchdown.
Valley Christian (2-7, 1-3) did manage 314 yards on offense, but the Heralds intercepted three Sebastian Malpica passes - two by Adrian Roybal - as the Crusaders fell out of playoff contention.
The Crusaders got on the scoreboard first, as Malpica found a wide-open Kyle Westra for a 60-yard scoring pass with 5:30 left in the opening quarter.
Esslinger and the Heralds responded by tying the score at 7 on a 7-yard TD toss to Kevin Hoskins. Whittier Christian opened the second quarter on its own 11-yard line before driving 89 yards on 15 plays, using up nearly six minutes off the clock. Esslinger connected again with Hoskins from five yards out as the Heralds led, 14-7.
The first of Roybal’s two picks was returned 26 yards to the Crusader 12-yard line. JP Marquez scored on the next play, which proved to be the winning touchdown with 4:17 left before halftime.
After receiving the second-half kickoff, the Heralds proceeded on another lengthy drive, good for 65 yards on 15 plays. Esslinger ran into the end zone from seven yards out.
Esslinger capped his evening with a 45-yard touchdown pass to Cody Bronkar late in the third quarter for a 35-7 advantage. Malpica would later throw his second touchdown of the night, a 7-yard strike to Clayton Granch, with just under 10 minutes to play.
Fischer, spelling Marquez, carried 12 out of 13 plays during a stretch of the fourth quarter. His 47-yard scamper deep into Crusader territory set up his 7-yard touchdown run with 8:14 to play.