VALENCIA – The Canyon football team made too many mistakes, missed too many opportunities, and in the end, played a team that was not quite ready to relinquish the Foothill League championship.
Valencia jumped out to a 17-point halftime lead and rolled to a 34-7 win over previously undefeated Canyon, the No. 20 team in the ESPNLA.com football rankings, in a Foothill League game at Valencia High School on Friday night.
Valencia receiver Malik Townsend caught two touchdown passes and the Vikings defense held Canyon to 34 rushing yards and 212 yards of total offense.
“I knew it was going to take a team effort,” Valencia coach Larry Muir said. “The secondary stepped up. The defensive line was going to have to play tough against the run.”
Valencia is the two-time reigning Foothill League champion. Canyon (6-1) won its first six games of the season, including the Foothill League opener last week against West Ranch.
Valencia (4-3) played a tough preseason schedule that included Chaminade and Loyola. The Vikings were 3-3 entering the game against Canyon.
The Vikings opened the game with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Sean Murphy and chewed up nearly five minutes of the first quarter.
Canyon’s first drive consisted of three plays and a punt. Valencia got the ball back at midfield and stalled after three plays.
Valencia was forced to punt, but Canyon had 12 players on the field for the punt return. The penalty gave Valencia a first down and the Vikings capped the drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Murphy to Townsend.
It was the first of many mistakes by Canyon.
“We wanted to compete and do our thing,” Canyon coach Rich Gutierrez said. “We needed to be disciplined and execute. Obviously, we made some mistakes.”
Canyon turned the ball over three times in the game. Quarterback Jonathan Jerozal threw two interceptions and Drew Wolitarsky fumbled a punt that led to a Valencia field goal just before halftime.
Meanwhile, Valencia didn’t commit a turnover. Murphy was 12-for-19 passing for 146 yards and two touchdowns to go with his rushing touchdown. He completed five passes in a row and was 9-for-12 in the first half.
“He’s gotten better and better,” Muir said. “He was getting better. You have to trust it and see it was going to come.”
Canyon cut the Valencia lead in half, 14-7, with a touchdown at the end of the first quarter. Jerozal scored on a quarterback sneak with eight seconds left in the first quarter. He passed for 178 yards and set the school record for passing. The senior quarterback has passed for 6,811 yards in his career at Canyon. Nate Longshore held the record with 6,789 passing yards.
Valencia took a 21-7 lead in the second quarter on an impressive 20-yard touchdown run by Cody Anciano. He broke a couples tackles at the line of scrimmage and carried defenders across the goal line. Anciano rushed for 50 yards on eight carries.
The Vikings went up 24-7 at halftime on a 19-yard field goal by Brett Schreiber.
Canyon had a chance to cut the lead to 10 points before halftime. After the Schreiber field goal, the Cowboys got the ball back with 38 seconds to play. Jerozal hit Wolitarsky with a 66-yard bomb that gave the Cowboys a first and goal from the nine-yard line.
But Jerozal threw three incomplete passes in a row and Canyon missed a 26-yard field goal as time expired in the half. The high-powered Canyon offense that was averaging nearly 50 points a game was held to seven at halftime.
“I didn’t feel shell-shocked,” Gutierrez said. “You never want to make mistakes against a great team. We made them tonight.”
Townsend caught his second touchdown pass of the game in the third quarter, a 19-yard strike from Murphy.
Schreiber kicked his second field goal of the game in the fourth quarter to give Valencia its final margin of victory, 27 points.
Valencia running back Jake Solley rushed for 125 yards on 20 carries.