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Valencia stuns Hart to clinch Foothill crown

Posted: November 1, 2013 11:30 p.m.
Updated: November 1, 2013 11:30 p.m.

Valencia quarterback Jake Wallace attempts to break a tackle against Hart defenders at College of the Canyons on Friday.

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For so many years, Hart football was the unstoppable force in the Santa Clarita Valley.

But ever since the Valencia Vikings took over the role of best football team in town, it has stubbornly refused to give that label up.

Valencia stopped Hart on a last-gasp drive in the final minute to hang on for a 24-19 win over the previously undefeated Hart Indians on Friday night in front of a near-capacity crowd at College of the Canyons.

For the Vikings, that means at least a share of a fifth straight Foothill League championship.

“We don’t care what the press says. We don’t care what the school says. We just go out there and we play Viking football,” said Valencia wide receiver Jay Jay Wilson.

He was a big part of Valencia’s game plan, scoring one rushing and one receiving touchdown while picking up almost his entire yardage on the ground. He ended up with 135 rushing yards on 23 carries.

Valencia (7-2 overall, 4-0 Foothill League) ran the ball effectively, particularly in the first half, which played a big part in the Vikings’ 24-7 halftime lead early in the third quarter.

Another big part of that was the constant pressure the defense applied on Hart quarterback Brady White.

“With a great QB like Brady White, we knew we had to bring pressure,” said Vikings linebacker Justin Son, who had 2.5 of Valencia’s nine sacks.

And even when Valencia wasn’t getting to the quarterback, the pressure led to big plays, like Alex Tapia’s interception that set up the Vikings at the Hart 19-yard line.

Three plays later, Wilson took a toss play 3 yards for a touchdown that put Valencia in front 21-7 headed into halftime.

The Vikings also scored earlier in the second quarter on a 19-yard pass play from Jake Wallace to Nick Jones, who tiptoed in the corner of the end zone.

“We can’t come out and play this slow and we can’t come out and give the game away like we did in the first half,” said White, who finished 25-for-49 with 409 yards passing, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran for a 7-yard score in the first quarter.

But it wasn’t enough, as Hart (8-1, 3-1) drops its first game of the year and likely loses out on a chance at its first league title since 2007. The Indians, ranked No. 1 in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division, have beaten Valencia only once since 2006.

And it had a chance to again on Friday night, driving to the Vikings’ 22-yard line in the final 2 minutes.

White was sacked for a 6-yard loss on first down, prompting a spike to kill the clock on second. After a delay-of-game penalty and an incomplete pass on third down, that set up Jourdan Nguyen’s game-clinching sack on fourth-and-21.

Prior to that, the Indians drove it down the field to set up Connor Wingenroth’s 4-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it a 24-13 Valencia lead.

It was otherwise a quiet night for Wingenroth, who had 21 yards on eight touches in his first game back since separating a shoulder on Oct. 4.

White tossed an 88-yard touchdown pass to Trent Irwin, which cut Valencia’s lead to 24-19 following a failed two-point try with 9:15 to play.

Valencia can wrap up the outright league title with a win over Golden Valley next week. Hart plays at Canyon to close the regular season.

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