Cheyne Verhagen, dragging a defender on his back, scored on a 26-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds left to give San Clemente High a 20-14 victory over Valencia in a Southern Section Division II quarterfinal playoff game Friday at College of the Canyons.
"I was determined," said Verhagen, who had 144 yards rushing in 23 carries, sending the Tritons (9-3) into a semifinal game next weekend against Newhall Hart.
Valencia (8-4) tied the score at 14-14 with 1:33 left on a remarkable 80-yard, 20-play, almost six-minute drive. Three times on fourth down, the Vikings converted into first downs. Jeff Bomberger finally scored on an eight-yard touchdown run.
San Clemente took over the ball on its own 35 with 1:27 left. Cole Bergquist completed passes of six and four yards before Verhagen broke off a 20-yard run. Bergquist completed a nine-yard pass to the Valencia 26 before Verhagen took off around the right side and kept running into the end zone.
"He did it all by himself, and it really had to happen," Coach Eric Patton said.
"He's amazing. The defense really held us together."
San Clemente's defense dominated the first half. Disguising its pass rush, the Tritons held Valencia's high-powered offense to 77 total yards in opening a 14-0 halftime lead.
But missed field-goal attempts from 25 and 19 yards in the second half gave Valencia a second chance. Quarterback Michael Herrick, a 15-year-old sophomore, completed a five-yard touchdown pass to Bomberger, cutting the lead to 14-7.
Herrick finished 24 of 42 for 166 yards, giving him 3,164 yards passing on the season.
San Clemente's defense received exceptional play from defensive end Bryan Oakes, who returned a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown, and linebacker Jole Krempasky, who had a sack, made two tackles for losses and put repeated pressure on Herrick.
Bergquist completed passes to nine different receivers and had 163 yards passing.