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Prep football: Vikes bring the storm

Valencia forces six turnovers, Manfro scores five more TDs

Posted: October 2, 2010 12:12 a.m.
Updated: October 2, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

SANTA MONICA — The Valencia High defense stormed out of the gates Friday night at Santa Monica College, propelling the Vikings to a 63-28 victory over Santa Monica High School on a night when Valencia running back Steven Manfro scored five touchdowns.

The defense was so strong, in fact, that it may have stymied its own offense on its way to forcing six turnovers.

On the second play of the game, with Santa Monica backed up to its own 7-yard line, defensive back Jake Reed intercepted quarterback Rhys Gervais’ pass and returned it for the game’s opening touchdown. Gervais finished with 202 passing yards on of 9-of-14 passing, including two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Two plays later, it was linebacker Connor Howell scooping up a fumble by Santa Monica running back Kori Garcia (105 yards on 14 carries and one touchdown), returning the ball to the Santa Monica 14-yard line and setting up a fourth-down touchdown scramble by Valencia quarterback Alex Bishop.

Just as it looked as though Valencia (4-0) would run away with the game early, the team faced its first real adversity of the season.

After each team punted on its next drive, Santa Monica halfback Brandon Taylor took a screen pass and turned it into a 70-yard touchdown, pulling his team within seven.

Once again, the Valencia offense struggled to move the ball, picking up one first down before punting the ball away.

Five plays and 86 seconds later, Santa Monica capped off an 80-yard drive, highlighted by Garcia’s 57-yard run, to tie the score.

“We had a false sense of security early on,” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir, “but our kids did a great job of responding.”

And respond they did.

Bishop, who was 16-of-27 passing for 337 yards, four touchdowns, one interception and one rushing touchdown, led the team on three straight scoring drives to enter the locker room at halftime leading 35-21.

“They were fighting all night, so it was a good sign to really see our team respond and really finish,” Bishop said. That was the first time we’ve had a team really come after us after we get on top.”

Despite the struggles Santa Monica was having handling the passing attack, the defense did what Valencia’s previous opponents could not do: control running back Manfro, who finished with six receptions for 88 yards and 62 yards on the ground on 18 carries.

What Santa Monica could not do, however, was keep Manfro out of the end zone, as the senior caught two touchdown passes and ran for three more scores.

Nonetheless, Santa Monica head coach Travis Clark was happy with the way his team handled the talented back.

“Honestly, in terms of his touchdowns, those were just coaches trying to keep his stats up, which is fine,” Clark said. “But when it counted, he didn’t get in. If we held him to 175, I thought we had a chance, I didn’t think we were going to hold him under 100.”

Whether orchestrated or not, the fact remains, Manfro exploded in the second half, scoring on a 44-yard run with 2:56 remaining in the third. Manfro continued his success, scoring twice over a span of 15 seconds midway through the fourth quarter on runs of 1 and 14 yards.

Wideout Tedric Thompson pulled in a 31-yard reception late in the fourth to push the score to 63-21.

Santa Monica would add a late touchdown with 45 seconds remaining for a final of 63-28.

While Valencia’s defense may have put both offenses in a daze early on, it was the Vikings of Valencia who woke up and turned what looked as though it might be a close game early, into yet another dominate Valencia performance.

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