Christmas came three weeks early for the Cajon High football team.
Rancho Verde was in a giving mood Friday night, turning the ball over seven times — six in the first half — and the Cowboys made almost every gift count, rolling to a 70–23 rout in a CIF Division 2-AA regional championship game in Moreno Valley.
Cajon, the Southern Section Division 4 champion, advanced to face Northern regional winner San Mateo Serra for the Division 2-AA state bowl championship 4 p.m. Friday at Sacramento State.
Even without being granted extra possessions and short fields, Cowboys dual-threat quarterback Jayden Daniels is practically unstoppable.
Daniels entered the contest having thrown for 4,641 yards and 59 touchdowns and rushed for 1,080 yards and 13 touchdowns. He threw for two scores and ran for another against the host Mustangs (12-3), the Southern Section Division 3 champions, but also had a pass intercepted — only his fourth of the year — on a tipped ball in the end zone.
Rancho Verde sophomore Brock White completed 12 of his 21 passes for 126 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown to Jamar Simpson on the Mustangs' first drive of the second half.
Joseph Yarber gave Cajon an early lead on scoring runs of 29 and 14 yards, and Daniels made it 20-0 on a one-yard keeper with 2:24 left in the first quarter. Yarber added a 15-yard touchdown in the second quarter and finished with 77 yards in 10 carries.
Rancho Verde finally broke through on White's three-yard keeper to open the second quarter, set up by Jordan Jefferson's 55-yard run, and Jasiah Richard-Lewis ran in the two-point conversion. Richard-Lewis had four receptions for 84 yards.
After the Cowboys recovered a fumble — the fourth of the half by the Mustangs — Daniels threw a 29-yard scoring strike to Jerome Weber, and on the Mustangs' next offensive play Omar Perkins returned an interception 30 yards to make it 36-8.
Xavier Ugorji rushed eight times for 126 yards — including a 66-yard touchdown — and Jefferson added 114 yards in 11 carries for Rancho Verde, which lost in the Division 3 semifinals last year and the Inland Division semifinals in 2015.
It was the 13th straight win for the Cowboys (14-1), who had defeated Downey 54-28 one week before for their first section crown since 1987.