Carson Sato was wheezing and coughing headed into Valencia football’s Friday night matchup against Bakersfield.
But the linebacker’s cold didn’t stop him from scoring twice in the Viking’s 56-14 homecoming win over the Drillers.
First, he recovered a fumble and ran it 66 yards for a touchdown midway through the second quarter. Six plays later, he picked up another fumble at the 50-yard line and bolted for the end zone.
“I’ll be honest, I was just in the right place at the right time and my fellow teammates just helped me get the fumble recoveries,” Sato said.
Valencia (4-0) did all the heavy lifting in the first half, mounting a 56-7 lead before the second quarter came to a close.
Quarterback Connor Downs had a one-yard rush for the Vikes’ first touchdown with 6:37 remaining in the first quarter, followed by a touchdown pass to Mykael Wright. Moises Haynes added a 26-yard scamper after.
Downs then connected with Wright for a 65-yard score. After Sato’s two touchdowns, Downs ran it in from the 10-yard line, then Jayvaun Wilson scored on a 22-yard dash.
Bakersfield (1-2) focused on an option offense that got them across the field, but into the end zone only twice.
The Drillers scored with two minutes remaining in the first quarter and once more with 8:53 left in the game.
“Those type of teams, you’ve got to get a feel for it as you go because those teams are tough to mimic during the week, the speed of it and their skill at (offense),” said coach Larry Muir.
Downs completed five of nine passes for 184 yards before being pulled in the second half in order to try out backup Davis Cop’s arm.
His performance quickly overshadowed the first play of the game in which Downs threw his first interception of the season.
“It rattled me and I was very frustrated with myself but I did have everyone on the sidelines tell me you’re good, you’re good,” Downs said. “And so I snapped out of it and I came back ready to play.”