“Same damn story, same damn story.”
The words emanated from Valencia High’s postgame huddle last week after the Vikings let another halftime lead get away.
Apparently enough was enough.
Valencia’s defense bent the narrative of Friday night’s rivalry game to its will, sacking Hart High quarterback Nick Moore nine times and forcing six turnovers in a 35-14 Foothill League opening win at Valencia High.
“The energy was up,” said Vikings linebacker Tariq Speights. “We wanted it, and we went out and got it.”
After having halftime leads against Chaminade and Calabasas turn into blowout preleague losses, the Vikings (4-2 overall, 1-0 in league) proved Friday they could finish.
Valencia led 21-7 at halftime, but the game wasn’t over until midway through the fourth, when slick completions to Jayvaun Wilson and Mykael Wright set up quarterback Aaron Thomas’ 1-yard scoring plunge to give Valencia a 35-14 lead.
“It felt really good to be able to show people we are an all–four-quarters team,” said Wright, who intercepted a JT Shrout pass on Hart’s final drive, the Indians’ sixth turnover of the night.
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Shrout had entered the game because Moore’s nose started to bleed after a vicious fourth-quarter hit. Moore got that pass off.
Nine other times Valencia got to him first, with five of the sacks coming after halftime.
Neither offense started strong, though.
After a scoreless first quarter, Speights got things rolling when he snatched a Moore pass out of the air two minutes into the second quarter and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown.
The pick-6 set off a four-minute scoring spree that saw the Vikings build the two-score lead over Hart (4-2, 0-1) at the break.
“We had six turnovers,” said Hart coach Mike Herrington, “and against a team like Valencia you can’t do that.”
Valencia has now won eight of the last 10 meetings between the schools and 23 straight league games.
Viking running back Moises Haynes carried 20 times for 104 yards.
But it was Wilson who found the end zone.
At the 6:49 mark in the second quarter, he broke a tackle behind the line and ran in for a 7-yard score and a 14-7 Valencia lead.
Then he intercepted Moore seconds later and returned it 27 yards to the Hart 16.
Thomas lobbed it up on the next play for Wright, who brought it down in the end zone.
Thomas finished the night 15-of-23 for 236 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Moore completed 13-of-28 passes for 181 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
He rushed 25 times for 105 yards and a score.
The Vikings play against Golden Valley at Canyon High next week.
Hart will host Canyon at College of the Canyons.