Citrus Beats LA Valley

It's often said that the best defense is a good offense. On November 17th, Citrus showed that sometimes the best offense is a good defense. The Citrus defense returned a fumbled lateral and an interception for touchdowns, forcing 5 turnovers in all, and helped set up the other 2 Citrus scores as the Owls beat LA Valley, 23-18.

LA Valley dominated most of the statistics, rolling up nearly 400 yds of total offense and 23 first downs.  However, the turnovers, particularly the ones that led directly to Citrus scores, doomed the Monarchs.  Zach Wasserman typified the Monarch effort:  he went 17 of 30 for 191 yds and a TD but threw an interception and fumbled 3 times.  The interception and one of the fumbles were returned for Owl touchdowns.

The Monarch defense held Citrus to just 128 total yards on the night.  However, Citrus was able to take advantage when it needed to, scoring a touchdown on a pass from Shaun Abkarian to J.R. Ruffin late in the 3rd quarter to open up a 23-9 lead. 

Backup QB Ruben Zaragosa nearly led LA Valley to an improbably comeback.  Trailing 23-9 when he entered the game, Zaragosa threw an interception on his first pass attempt of the night.  However, on the next series, he led the Monarchs to a field goal by Geoff Marcus.  It was Marcus' 16th field goal of the season, extending his LAVC record.

On the next drive, Zaragosa got the Monarchs to the Citrus 1-yd line where it was 3rd and goal.  However, a penalty for 12 men in the huddle moved the ball back to the 6, and an ill-fated lateral screen to James Norris resulted in a 7-yd loss.  On 4th and goal, Zaragosa was knocked to the ground as he threw and the ball fell incomplete.  That would prove to be costly for LA Valley.

After a Citrus punt, Valley got the ball back with 2:46 left.  Exactly a minute later, Zaragosa found Efren Lopez in the end zone for a touchdown.  Marcus' extra point made it 23-16 with 1:46 to go. 

LA Valley elected to kick deep, and ended up pinning Citrus inside its 10-yd line.  Citrus kept the ball on the ground, and while they kept the clock running they also lost yardage.  Valley elected to save their final timeout.  On 4th down, Citrus QB Abkarian stepped out of the back of the end zone for a safety.  That made it 23-18 with 10 seconds left.

Following a fair catch on the free kick, Valley took over on its own 35.  They tried a quick pass to Norris, hoping he could break some tackles.  He did, but he was brought down at the Citrus 26 with the clock showing 0:00.

Things had started well for Valley.  Citrus took the opening kickoff but went 3 and out.  After taking the punt, the Monarchs drove the length of the field and scored on a 29-yd pass from Zach Wasserman to Daniel Schneider.  Then after forcing another Citrus punt, Valley was moving the ball again when a Wasserman lateral missed connections with Norris.  Chris Shaddock picked the ball up at the 50 and took it in to tie the game.  For the rest of the half, the Valley offense had trouble moving the ball.

To start the second half, Valley again moved the ball behind the passing of Wasserman.  But this drive ended suddenly and disasterously as well for the Monarchs when Corey Haygood intercepted a Wasserman pass and took it 63 yds for the score.

The game was dominated by the defenses.  The Monarchs allowed Citrus just 128 yds of total offense and 12 first downs.  While the Owl defense allowed 387 yds and 23 first downs, they also generated 5 turnovers and registered 6 sacks.  The Owl defense had heavy pressure on the Monarch quarterbacks all evening.

With the win, Citrus reaches the .500 mark with a record of 5-5.  LA Valley, which was ranked #14 in the South in the coaches' pre-season poll, concludes a disappoointing season at 3-7.

Scoring Summary:

1st Quarter:
V – Schneider 29 yd pass from Wasserman (pass failed) 12:240-6
C – Shaddock 50 yd ret of fumbled lateral (kick blocked) 6:52  -  6-6
C – FG Nicassio 30 yds 0:00 - 9-6

2nd Quarter:
(No Scoring)

3rd Quarter:
C – Haygood 63 interception return (Nicassio kick) 11:07 - 16-6
C – Ruffin 28 yd pass from Abkarian (Nicassio kick) 3:09 - 23-6

4th Quarter:
V – FG Marcus 25 yds 8:23 - 23-9
V – E.Lopez 13 yd pass from Zaragoza (Marcus kick) 1:46 - 23-16
V – Safety – Abkarian ran out of end zone 0:1023-18

Team Statistics:

Team Statistics: Valley Citrus
First Downs  23 (13 pass; 9 run; 1 pen) 12 (8 pass; 2 run; 2 pen)
Rushes - Yards  39-117  31-14                      
Passing Yards  270  114
Comp - Att - Int  23-41-2  9-26-1
Return Yard 46  198
Sacks - Yards 1-9 6-40
Fumbles - Lost 4-3 2-2
Penalties - Yards 11-85 10-63

Individual Statistics:

V:  37-Fields 7-48, 5-Norris 5-42, 35-Ortega 6-35, 10-Zaragoza 7-27, 7-Mueller 4-5, 25-A.Johnson 2-0, 9-Wasserman 8-(-40) C:  24- Deal 17-26, 42-Nall 6-4, 46-Jam.Martin 2-4, 22-Hatter 1-2, 17-Adams 1-(-6), 11-Abkarian 4-(-16)

:  9-Wasserman 17-30-1-191, 1 TD; 10-Zaragoza 6-11-1-79, 1 TD C:  11-Abkarian 9-26-1-114, 1 TD

V:  18-Schneider 5-95, 1-Trent 5-45, 3-E.Lopez 4-42, 86-Hines 3-36, 37-Fields 2-31, 5-Norris 2-6, 81-Mitchell 1-8, 19-B.Gonzalez 1-7  C:  5-Terrazas 3-38, 82-J.Lopez 2-4, 2-Ruffin 1-28, 15-Tolman 1-18, 12-Bemenet 1-15, 86-Chavez 1-11

V:  7-Mueller 4-30.5 avg   C:  23-Nicassio 5-43.0 avg + 1 blocked

Kick Ret:
V:  1-Trent 1-7, 11-Hurns 1-(-1)   C:  7-Fisher 2-39, 17-Adams 1-12

Combined Kick Ret:
C:  7-Fisher to 17-Adams 1-12

Punt Ret:
V:  5-Norris 2-19, 33-Daniels 1-0   C:  17-Adams 2-16          

Int-Ret Yds:
V:  12-Lutz 1-21  C:  18-Haygood 1-63, 49-Thompson 1-6

Fum Rec-Ret Yds:
V:  52-Porter 1-0, 55-Emelio 1-0     C:  4-Shaddock 1-50, 52-Espinoza 1-0, 55-Bryant 1-0                                       

V:  52-Porter  C:  65-Yanez 2 ½ , 32-Joe Martin, 52-Espinoza, 55-Bryant, 49-Thompson ½

Punt Block:

Notes:  Citrus finishes 5-5 while LA Valley finishes 3-7.  All the Citrus pts came off turnovers:  the 2 TD returns, the FG (came after the fumble rec by Espinoza) and the other TD (came after a fumble rec by Bryant).  All 3 fumbles lost by VC were by Wasserman.  Marcus' FG was his 16th of the season, extending his LAVC record.  Wasserman started at QB for VC.  Mueller played some in 2nd qtr.  Wasserman reentered near end of 2nd qtr and started 2nd half.  Zaragoza entered after the 3rd Wasserman fumble.  VC had 3rd and goal from 1 midway through 4th qtr but a penalty, a 7-yd loss and an incomplete pass turned it over on downs.  And with better clock management VC might have had more than 10 seconds on their last chance.  They still have 1 timeout left.  Oh well...  

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