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Yorba Linda improves playoff chances
ANAHEIM - Yorba Linda moved closer to securing a playoff berth Thursday with a 31-6 victory over Kennedy in an Empire League game at Western High.
Shad Pace had two touchdown receptions, and Angel Ochoa ran for two touchdowns for Yorba Linda, which improved to 3-2 in league.
The Mustangs (7-2 overall) are in third place, one-half game ahead of Cypress and Pacifica. Cypress plays host to Pacifica at Western on Friday night. Next week is the final week of the regular season.
Tustin (5-0 in league) is in first place. Valencia (4-1) is in second and is idle this week.
Yorba Linda plays host to Pacifica next Thursday. Kennedy plays at Tustin on Thursday.
The top three finishers in the seven-team Empire League receive guaranteed entry into the CIF-Southern Section Southwest Division playoffs. The league's fourth-place team would be eligible for one of the division's two at-large berths.
All of the scoring happened in the first half, which somewhat irked Yorba Linda coach Jeff Bailey.
"This is the kind of game where you have to play intense and you have to play focused, and I don't know if we did that tonight," Bailey said.
The coach said he will be at the Pacifica-Cypress game.
"It'll be an interesting game," Bailey said. "But we've got to worry about ourselves and beat Pacifica next week."
Yorba Linda, after punting to end its first possession, scored on its next three possessions — a 20-yard field goal by Matt Barr, a 46-yard yard touchdown pass from Brandon Summers to Pace, and, just a few seconds into the second quarter, a 36-yard touchdown run by Ochoa. That gave Yorba Linda 17-0 lead.
A fumble recovery by Yorba Linda's Tim Holt, who also had a sack in the first half, set up the Mustangs' next touchdown, a 3-yard run by Ochoa that made it 24-0. An 18-yard touchdown pass from Summers to Pace with 50 seconds remaining in the half pushed the Mustangs lead to 31-0.
Kennedy scored its points with 11 seconds left in the half on 13-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Troy Cochran to running back Darius Miles.
Ochoa finished with 88 yards on 11 carries. Summers was 13 of 24 for 164 yards, the two touchdown passes to Pace and one interception.
Pace had seven receptions for 105 yards and the two touchdowns.
Kennedy running back Miles, who was averaging 90 rushing yards a game, was limited to 24 yards on 15 carries.
Yorba Linda's other league victories were over Western and Cypress. The Mustangs lost league games to Tustin and Valencia.
Kennedy's league victory was over Western. That came last week after consecutive league losses to Valencia, Pacifica and Cypress.
Yorba Linda made the playoffs last year, its first year with a senior class.