SAN CLEMENTE — Valencia High’s one-time 14-point lead was a distant memory as a San Clemente defender sacked Vikings quarterback Aaron Thomas to effectively end the game late in the fourth quarter Friday.
The Tritons rattled off 20 straight second-half points in a 41-35 home win over Valencia in a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 semifinal, ending the Vikings’ hopes of a run to their first-ever CIF crown.
“I just feel for my seniors,” said Viking defensive end Josh Washington. “This is the last game most of them will ever play.”
San Clemente quarterback Jack Sears threw five touchdown passes, three of them after halftime, when Valencia had led 28-14.
The Vikings led 35-28 at the end of the third quarter. But after a Triton field goal, Sears threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Chase Berman to give his team a 38-35 lead with eight minutes left.
Valencia drove the ball down the field, but Thomas was intercepted in the end zone with five minutes to play. San Clemente added a field goal and sacked Thomas on Valencia’s final offensive play to seal a trip to the finals.
Valencia had a dominant first half, beginning with a 68-yard touchdown from Thomas to Tim Wiggins on the very first drive.
Thomas threw four touchdowns in the game, including a 55-yarder to Mykael Wright to put Valencia up 35-21 late in the third quarter.
Triton senior receiver Brandon Reaves and Sears proved to be too much, though. Outside of a handful of Valencia sacks, Sears had the luxury of a sturdy offensive line that allowed him to move around in the pocket.
“When you get this late the year, in Week 13, every team is going to be good,” said Valencia coach Larry Muir. “Every offensive line is going to be good, every defensive line is going to be good. I think we’re good. Just a mistake here and there.”
Still Muir appreciates what his team accomplished.
“I’m concentrated on this group right here,” he said. “They did a great job all year and you always feel so bad for the seniors because the seniors do a great job. I’m just proud of all them, and I just want to be with my team.”