Valencia High School had just seen a 2-touchdown lead cut in half with 11 minutes 41 seconds left in its Division VI second-round playoff game with Sunny Hills Friday night.
Sunny Hills, which had been thoroughly outplayed until then, had suddenly seized the momentum and appeared it would make a game of it against top-seeded Valencia.
But Valencia began a drive at its 39-yard line with 11:32 left, reaching the Sunny Hills 9 before it stalled. Though no points were scored all but 5:12 of the fourth quarter was killed.
Sunny Hills’ momentary advantage withered away and Valencia later added another touchdown for a 20-7 victory in front of 2,000 at Buena Park High School.
Valencia (11-0-1) will play Fullerton in the semifinals next week. Sunny Hills finishes its season 9-3.
This was not the first time Valencia used a long drive to dent an opponent’s momentum. The Tigers used a similar time-consuming drive to preserve its division championship victory over Anaheim last year.
When it got the ball back, Sunny Hills misfired on 3 consecutive passes to bring about a fourth down at its 9 with 4:50 left. Jon Beuerlein, the Lancer quarterback, dropped back to pass again, but was hit as he threw.
Valencia’s Mike Ehli gathered in the wobbly pass and ran 15 yards for the game-clinching touchdown. Richard Wells’ conversion kick attempt failed and the Tigers led, 20-7.
The Tigers had taken a 14-0 halftime lead and held the Lancers scoreless until running back Kenny Overby scored on a 21-yard run.
Keef Leasure’s 1-yard run with 4:43 left in the first quarter gave the Tigers their first touchdown. Leasure gained 141 yards in 27 carries, running easily through the Lancer defense in the first half for 105 yards.
He found big holes along the left side of the Tigers’ offensive line, running behind Scott Steele and Yong Kim.
When Randy Roskelly caught an 8-yard pass from Tracy Garrett with 59 seconds left in the half, the Tigers had what appeared to be a comfortable 14-0 lead.
But Sunny Hills clamped down on Leasure in the third quarter and finally got its offense moving.
Beuerlein completed an 18-yard pass to Jon Montgomery for a first down on a key third-down play on what turned out to be the Lancers’ only scoring drive. Later, Beuerlein scrambled 9 yards to set up a fourth-and-1 at the Valencia 24. He sneaked ahead for 3 yards and a first down, setting up Overby’s touchdown run.
Beuerlein completed 17 of 32 passes for 185 yards with 2 interceptions, which amounted to the bulk of the Lancers’ offense.