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Vikes have right rhythm

Solley leads the way for the Vikings, throwing for 274 and two touchdowns

Posted: November 21, 2008 11:44 p.m.
Updated: November 22, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Ventura quarterback (3) Keihan Gibbs' fumble is returned 75 yards for a Valencia touchdown Friday.

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With five touchdown plays of 10 yards or more, five forced turnovers and a whole slew of big hits, one thing's for certain.

Valencia sure knows how to make an entrance.

The Vikings kicked off the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs in grand fashion with a dominant 42-14 victory over Ventura Friday night at Paul Priesz Stadium.

Valencia advances to play Westlake, which edged Oxnard 36-35 Friday.

Vikings quarterback Dominick Solley threw a pair of touchdown passes and finished 12-of-20 for 274 yards - including 261 in the first half - to lead the attack, but the defense made just as many big plays, if not more.

And Solley said that's what is most important.

"The defense has been good all year, and if we want to win a championship, defense has got to step up," Solley said. "The defense has always stepped up for us, so we just want to keep it going."

Valencia linebacker Trevor Smyth provided one of the game's biggest highlights late in the first quarter. With the Vikings (9-2) up 7-0 on a 12-yard touchdown run by Jordan Thompson, Cougars quarterback Keihan Gibbs fumbled on a keeper, and Smyth scooped up the ball and rumbled 69 yards for a touchdown.

"I was feeling great," Smyth said. "I've got my team behind me. It feels amazing."

Smyth also helped Valencia start the second half strongly, recovering another fumble after Rocky Maldonado hit Gibbs as he was dropping back to pass on third-and-long.

Jabari Howard picked off two Gibbs passes, and Zack Tartabull had a timely interception in the end zone to halt an early drive by Ventura (6-5).

With the exception of two long touchdown drives in the second and third quarters, the Vikings regularly stuffed the Cougar offense and never gave Ventura's athletes room to make plays.

According to Smyth, that's all part of the plan.

"Our motto is, ‘Play fast every game,' and we just try to come out, play fast and take it to them," he said.

That's exactly what the Valencia offense did, too.

Solley connected with Tartabull for first-down yardage on a third-and-6 early in the second quarter, and Tartabull jetted down the sideline to push Valencia's lead to 21-0.

After a 1-yard scoring plunge by Ventura tailback Matt Melnar, the Vikings answered swiftly. Solley found Tartabull for a 38-yard gain and then hit Adam Gutierrez for another 38 yards and another touchdown.

"Our offense is always potent," Solley said. "We try to get better and better each week. It matters who we play, but when it comes down to it, it's just another game."

Following Smyth's second fumble recovery, Thompson punched it in from 2 yards out to give the Vikings a 28-point lead.

Ventura answered with a quick four-play scoring drive, during which receiver E.J. Turner caught three passes for 68 of the Cougars' 69 yards, including the 15-yard touchdown.

Not to be outdone, Thompson gained all 77 yards on Valencia's final touchdown drive and capped the scoring with an 11-yard scamper.

Although Thompson is normally Valencia's biggest weapon, Solley and the passing game racked up so many yards that the senior tailback didn't need to shoulder as much of the load.

With the offense clicking like that, the Viking defense needed little encouragement.

"It really makes it easy on us," Smyth said. "We know the offense has got our back. We got their back, so we just play hard."

Thompson finished with 90 yards on 10 carries and the three touchdowns, while Tartabull caught five passes for 156 yards, all in the first half.

Ventura opened up the playbook in the second half, and Gibbs finished 21-of-32 for 230 yards and one touchdown along with the three interceptions. He also led the Cougars with 58 yards on 11 carries. Turner, the son of the late UCLA standout and NFL defensive back Eric Turner, caught nine passes for 117 yards.


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