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Prep football: Unfamiliar territory

Valencia loses to Palmdale for first time since 2007, ending five-game streak

Posted: September 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Valencia High School's Jake Solley scores in the third quarter against Palmdale High at Valencia on Friday. The Falcons, who had lost five straight to Valencia since 2007, defeated the Vikings 35-21.

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The ball was moving down the field with a balanced, steady attack all game long.

It was a perfect balance of run and pass, getting all the top skill players involved.

Yes, that’s right, Palmdale did exactly what Valencia wanted to do offensively, and the Falcons did it a lot better.
The result was a 35-21 victory to spoil the Vikings’ season opener on Friday night at Valencia High, ending a Vikings’ five-game winning streak over Palmdale that began in 2007.

The game was in doubt until well into the fourth quarter when Palmdale running back Dameon Barber shifted his way through Valencia’s defense for an 86-yard backbreaking touchdown to put the Falcons up 35-21 with 6:23 to play.

Barber carried the ball 22 times for 199 yards and scored twice on the ground, once through the air to lead the Falcons (2-0).

“That’s a tough running back right there,” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. “You give him a little opening, a little bit of space, and he’ll make you pay.”

Valencia (0-1) came into the day hoping its offense would be improved with the amount of experienced talent returning from last year.

And improved it was. It just wasn’t enough to keep up with Palmdale.

It was every bit the kind of start the Vikings could have wanted offensively.

After receiving the kickoff to start the game, quarterback Sean Murphy led Valencia down the field for an eight-play, 56-yard drive, which was mostly done by Murphy’s three complete passes for 41 yards.

He then capped it off with a 1-yard keeper for the touchdown to make it 7-0.

Murphy finished 16-for-28 with 178 yards through the air and an interception on a heave at the end of the first half.

He spread the ball to six different targets, including Malik Townsend, who led all receivers with eight catches for 87 yards.

But the Vikings were rendered one-dimensional when running backs Stone Jackson, Jake Solley and Cole Chadwell couldn’t find room in the ground game.

“There were some flashes, some good things, but obviously there were a lot of bad things too,” Muir said. “The good news is the things we did wrong are all fixable.”

Solley scored on a 2-yard touchdown with 3:19 left in the third quarter to knot the score at 21-21.

But the Vikings’ defense couldn’t hold on the other end.

Jake Dashnaw connected with Jarrod Ford on a fourth-and-7 pass that went 20 yards for the go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter.

After a botched snap on the point-after attempt, Palmdale was up 27-21, a lead it would keep for good.

Palmdale scored on three of its four possessions in the first half, including one which was awarded via a fumbled handoff by Chadwell in the first quarter.

At that point, it was 7-7 late in the first quarter, but the Falcons quickly marched 37 yards in three plays to reach the end zone and take a 14-7 lead.

All three plays went to Richard, including two runs and an 18-yard reception from Dashnaw for the score.

The only time the efficient Palmdale offense tripped up before halftime came midway through the second quarter when Valencia’s Justin Son picked off a third-down pass from Dashnaw and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.

Other than that, Dashnaw was solid, going 14-for-22 with 159 yards and three touchdowns.

The Falcons also scored on a 6-yard run up the middle by Richard just before halftime.

“They exposed what we’ve got wrong,” Muir said. “It’s a starting point.”



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