Valencia High had 11 penalties, three turnovers and a precarious lead over Saugus High through three quarters Friday night in a battle of Foothill League unbeatens at Valencia High.
The Vikings also had a defensive unit that allowed gains by the inch, and sometimes less.
Valencia stonewalled the Centurions and their seven-game winning streak, 28-7.
The Vikings’ path to an eighth straight Foothill title, on the other hand, now looks wide open.
“We didn’t stop,” said Valencia defensive lineman Josh Washington. “We didn’t let any of their big plays faze us. “
Saugus (7-1 overall, 2-1 in league) didn’t have many of those.
The Vikings (6-2, 3-0) held the Centurions to 24 total yards in the first half, but didn’t fare much better themselves.
Aside from two long passing plays, the Vikings sputtered and halted.
All was well, though, for the handful of seconds that quarterback Aaron Thomas’ heaves hung in the air.
He connected with Zion Dunson for 34 yards early in the first quarter to set up a 3-yard Moises Haynes touchdown run.
MORE football: Grizzlies grab first league win against Canyon
Thomas then hit a streaking Brendan Adam six seconds before the half for a 40-yard score and a 14-0 lead.
“We knew going into the game we had the athletes, we had the guys, who could get over the top,” Thomas said.
The senior triggerman finished the night 8-for-19 for 207 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
His 68-yard TD pass to Mykael Wright midway through the fourth quarter gave Valencia a 21-7 lead. It also stunned a large Saugus crowd into silence after the Cents had just climbed within seven on a 61-yard passing score.
That was the night’s offensive highlight for Saugus, which entered the game at 7-0 for the first time in program history.
Centurions quarterback Nathan Eldridge lofted the ball deep over Valencia’s coverage to Daniel Gilmartin for Saugus’ lone points.
It was Gilmartin’s seventh TD of the season and his only catch of the night.
Eldridge completed 10-of-18 passes for 100 yards and an interception.
Valencia turned the ball over three times in all.
But it found a rhythm in time to avoid losing to Saugus for the first time since 2008.
Vikings running back Jayvaun Wilson set the final score with a 3-yard touchdown run at the 6:42 mark in the fourth quarter.
Valencia’s defense made no such concessions.
“I thought they played pretty physical up front,” said Saugus coach Jason Bornn, “and we had a difficult time establishing any kind of run game.”
Valencia has beaten Saugus nine straight times, including twice in 2013 when the Vikings topped the Centurions, 45-8, in a CIF-Southern Section Northern Division semifinal.
They’ve beaten the Cents by an average of 28 points during the streak.