By Jonathan Andrade
For The Signal
The easiest way to rid oneself of the sour taste of defeat is to get back in the win column.
Valencia — still perplexed by last week’s surprising overtime loss to Hart — did just that at home Friday night, dominating Golden Valley en route to a 28-14 victory.
“They’ve gone through a lot of adversity and they responded tonight,” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. “They did a great job of coming together and putting a full game together. It was a well-deserved victory for our seniors on senior night.”
Much of the first half was marred by penalties and turnovers by both sides, but Valencia found its groove in the second quarter, opening the scoring on an 8-yard touchdown pass from junior Trey Erickson to wide open senior Zamondre Merriweather with 5:40 on the clock.
Golden Valley evened the score at 7-7 with a 34-yard touchdown grab by junior Ajani Smith, who won a jump ball against Valencia’s Duhron Goodman.
Valencia wasn’t ready to settle for the halftime stalemate. Senior Ray Hall returned the Golden Valley kickoff to the Grizzlies’ 43-yard line. Erickson scrambled for a 16-yard pick up, then followed up by hitting Hall for a 19-yard touchdown strike with 16 seconds remaining.
“We responded,” Muir said. “That was a big moment for us.”
Following a Goodman interception early in the third, Valencia used its imposing ground game to march the ball 60 yards, capping the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by Giorgio Spiropoulos.
Golden Valley went three-and-out on the next possession. A botched punt gave Valencia the ball at the Grizzlies’ 36. Goodman called game when he spun free from a would-be tackler and scampered 17 yards for the score, extending the lead to 28-7.
The senior said he was glad to redeem himself after allowing the first-half touchdown.
“I was thinking about it, but you have to have a short-term memory,” he said. “I couldn’t let it affect me the rest of the game. I had to come out and do what I do, for my teammates.”
Valencia’s stingy defense gave up a 24-yard touchdown pass to Smith with 1:11 seconds on the clock, but the Viking lead was too much to overcome.
“I’m proud of my players,” said Golden Valley head coach Dan Kelley. “They came out fired up and they rose to the occasion. They were mentally and physically prepared. We just got worn down a little bit at the end there.”
Both teams wrap up Foothill League action next week.
Golden Valley plays host to Canyon.
“It’s win at all cost,” Kelley said. “We have to beat Canyon. They’re going to be sky-high for us. Canyon does some things that can give you some problems. We have to be able to stop them, and counter them on offense.”
Valencia travels to seek revenge against defending league champion Saugus.
“After losing to Saugus last year, we really want to beat them this year,” Goodman said. “It’s definitely going to be a tough game, but we’re bringing everything we’ve got.”