Temecula Valley scores with 10 seconds left to beat West Ranch in semifinals

Zach Van Bennekum carries the ball in a game against Temecula Valley in the CIF-SS Division 7 semifinals on Friday, Nov. 22 at Temecula Valley High School. Photo courtesy Marc Danny
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Temecula Valley beat West Ranch, 31-28, on Friday night in the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 semifinals at Temecula Valley on Friday.

The Golden Bears scored a touchdown with just 10 seconds left in the game to secure a spot in the Division 7 championship game. 

“We were the underdogs,” said running back Reiger Burgin. “We’ll always be the underdogs. We’ll never be on top and that’s what we came to prove. Why we should be on top.”

The game started out optimistic for the Wildcats as they gained a 14-7 lead by the end of the first quarter on two touchdowns from Burgin.

Temecula Valley (11-2) came out hard and fast in the second quarter, scoring about 45 seconds into the frame on a 10-yard touchdown run by Brody Hughes.

Shortly after, at the 8:24 mark, the Golden Bears’ Abe Flores gave his team its first advantage by rushing three yards into the end zone for a touchdown.

To close out the first half, Temecula Valley pulled ahead 24-14 on a field goal.

West Ranch (10-3) started to mount a comeback on the other side of the break. Eget chucked a 5-yard touchdown pass to Zach Van Bennekum with 1:18 to go in the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Wildcats defense held the Golden Bears scoreless.

The scoring was halted until the end of the fourth quarter. Burgin tacked on another touchdown with 1:03 left in the game on a short run to get the Wildcats back in the lead at 28-24.

“Kind of a slow start, but I think we kind of woke up a little bit,” said coach Chris Varner. “I think the second half we played a lot better, we got some stops and just couldn’t get one at the end.”

The Golden Bears silenced West Ranch’s excitement with just seconds left in the game. Quarterback Zach Cutka sent a 9-yard pass to Anson Pulsipher for one final touchdown.

“It’s a heck of a team,” Varner said of Temecula Valley. “Nobody really gave us much of a chance in this game and just proud of everything that the guys did and that’s the way it goes.”

The Wildcats finished tied for runner-up in the final Foothill League standings. It was West Ranch’s first appearance in the semifinals in program history.

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