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CIF football playoffs: Vikings season come to close

Posted: November 23, 2012 10:27 p.m.
Updated: November 23, 2012 10:27 p.m.

Valencia's Jay Jay Wilson walks in disappointment as Palos Verdes celebrates its 50-33 victory in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division semifinals Friday at Valencia.

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It was midway through the fourth quarter at Valencia High Friday and the Vikings were trailing Palos Verdes by nine points in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division semifinals.

Palos Verdes faced a third-and-18 from its own 49-yard line and the Vikings sideline and the Valencia faithful were rocking and rolling.

Then Sea Kings quarterback Bryan Scott unleashed a 49-yard completion to wide receiver Dean Alessi.

Dead. Silence.

Palos Verdes scored three plays later on a 3-yard Scott pass to Ian Erceg to set the final score at 50-33 Palos Verdes.

After the play, it was the same.

Dead. Silence.

It was the fourth time in five seasons the Vikings reached a Northern Division semifinal and lost.

And now Palos Verdes is playing in its first CIF final since 1965 — this time against West Torrance next Saturday.

“I’m trying not to show it, but it hurts inside,” said Valencia quarterback Sean Murphy, who had one of the biggest year-to-year turnarounds in Santa Clarita Valley football history.

The senior was his usual self — a 23-for-35 performance for 377 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The three scores put him at 38 for the season — a new Vikings record. He had six touchdown passes all of 2011.

But Valencia (9-4) just wasn’t the same offense in the first half, and all game long the Vikings had little resistance to Palos Verdes running back Matt Lopes.

The senior ground out 210 yards on 37 carries with four rushing touchdowns.

“We didn’t play to our full potential,” said Valencia linebacker A.J. Costleigh. “They were more physical. We needed to be more physical.”

Palos Verdes (10-3) gave a preview of what it was going to do on the first drive of the game.

The Sea Kings went 14 plays and drove 80 yards in 5:48, ending with an 18-yard touchdown run by Lopes to go up 7-0.

Lopes had seven runs on the drive.

But for all the rushing offense Palos Verdes was successful with, Valencia was matching that success with its passing game.

The Vikings answered with a quick strike — a 68-yard touchdown pass to Nick Jones.

The Vikings missed the extra point and trailed 7-6 with 5:46 to play.

Palos Verdes scored on four of its first five drives in the first half — a 14-yard pass from Scott to Alessi, a 25-yard pass to Alessi and a 13-yard run by Lopes got the Sea Kings their other scores.

But the Vikings kept it close, scoring on four of its five drives — touchdown passes to Malik Townsend of 33 and 54 yards and a 4-yard touchdown run by Stone Jackson.

Townsend had five catches for 116 yards.

Valencia trailed 28-26 at halftime.

But the Vikings opened up the second half with a three-and-out.

Lopes then scored on the ensuing drive on a 2-yard run.

Murphy’s second pass on the following possession was intercepted by cornerback Will Scolinos and Lopes turned that into a 20-yard score for a 42-26 Sea Kings lead.

“We got a little too deer in the headlights,” said Palos Verdes head coach Guy Gardner on his defense early compared to late. “I hit them with an oxymoron — settle down to play harder on defense.”

Valencia could only come up with one score in the second half — a 1-yard touchdown run by Murphy with 1:50 to play in the third quarter that brought the Vikings to a 42-33 deficit.

The Vikings had the ball for only 1:16 in the fourth quarter.

Their season ended again one heartbreaking step from a championship game.

“Obviously you think of the seniors and what they meant to the program,” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. “You hope they come out of it better young men. Sometimes the bigger lessons in life come from when things don’t always go your way.”

If there’s any solace, Valencia football is the measuring stick of Santa Clarita Valley football — four years, four Foothill League titles, three semifinal appearances.

It came into the season not as the Foothill League title favorite or with expectations from outsiders to get this far.

One could say the Vikings silenced a lot of critics.

 

 

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