As if one interception in the crucial moments of a game wasn't enough for Ryan Block, he had to go do it again.
Block, a freshman safety from Crespi High, picked off two passes in the fourth quarter to help Valley College defeat Hancock, 37-25, in the Western State Bowl on Saturday night at Valley.
The victory gave the Monarchs a 10-1 record for the second consecutive season and showed that Valley, although known more for its potent offense, can play defense with the best of them.
Hancock (9-2) went into the game with the state's top-rated defense, but the Monarchs turned in a superb defensive effort, led by Block, defensive end Jerry Melikyan and tackle Edgar Nava.
"We just wanted to prove that we were the better defense," Block said. "I've never been in a game like this."
Melikyan keyed Valley's comeback from a 19-13 deficit late in the third quarter when he intercepted a pass by Adam Pineo and returned it 18 yards to the Hancock four. Two plays later, Johnnie Brown ran one yard for the touchdown that pulled the Monarchs to within 20-19.
Then, on Hancock's next possession, defensive end Bryan Henderson sacked Pineo and caused him to fumble. Nava recovered and returned the ball to the Bulldog 31.
The Monarchs capitalized three plays later on a three-yard pass from Dave Lins to Leaford Hackett to take a 27-19 lead with 34 seconds left in the third quarter.
Valley's defensive effort in the second half, after breaking down on a few occasions earlier in the game, impressed Monarch Coach Jim Fenwick.
"We were a little slow in recognizing things we thought were there [in the first half]," Fenwick said.
Hancock closed the gap to 27-25 early in the fourth quarter on a five-yard run by Duane Goree, but the Monarchs responded with a 40-yard field goal by Jose Cortez and a 10-yard touchdown pass from Lins to Eric Carpenter in the waning moments.
Lins completed 15 of 29 attempts for 155 yards and three touchdowns and Marcus Harvey, Valley's all-time rushing leader, had 13 carries for 68 yards before suffering a torn ligament in his left elbow and ending his career with the Monarchs in the third quarter.
The Monarchs fell behind quickly before rallying.
Hancock took a 13-7 lead on a two-yard touchdown run by Geoff Snowden in the first quarter and a 19-yard touchdown pass from Pineo to Corey Standish on a fake field goal in the second quarter.
The Monarchs moved the ball well on their next possession, starting at their 21-yard line and working their way to the Hancock 21 before the drive stalled and Cortez kicked a 38-yard field goal to pull Valley within, 13-10, at the half.
Pineo was 17 of 29 for 181 yards and three interceptions, and Snowden had 14 carries for 153 yards.