It was a toss-up whether Valley College tailback Dondre Bausley or the Antelope Valley defense, ranked No. 1 in the state, was more overworked Saturday night.
The Marauder defense proved more effective, however, by stopping Valley and preserving Antelope Valley's 7-6 win in the Southern California Conference showdown at Antelope Valley.
The loss drops Valley (7-1, 6-1 in conference play) from the undefeated ranks with two conference games remaining. Antelope Valley (7-1, 7-0) takes over sole possession of first place.
Defense was the difference in the game on a rain-soaked field. Antelope Valley, aided by three key interceptions, rallied from a 6-0 deficit in the fourth quarter.
The Marauders scored the winning touchdown on running back Kelly King's 1-yard run with 14:08 remaining. Linebacker Ryan Lile intercepted Valley quarterback Barry Hanks at the Marauder 17-yard-line, setting the stage for the decisive drive.
From that point, Valley failed to move within scoring position, its drives thwarted by Marauder interceptions of Hanks' passes. Safety Dexter Nelson intercepted a pass with 3:25 left to stop one Monarch drive and the last Antelope Valley interception at midfield with 34 seconds left stopped Valley for the last time.
Valley's defense was also effective, allowing Antelope Valley only 95 yards and not surrendering a Marauder first down until the last minute of the third quarter.
Bausley paced Valley's offense, rushing for 107 of its 204 total yards. But not even Bausley could overcome the weather conditions and keep Valley on its 481.7-yard-a-game pace.
The sophomore tailback was unable to capitalize on a golden opportunity to put Valley further ahead in the third quarter. With the Monarchs leading, 6-0, linebacker Eddie Davis recovered a Marauder fumble inside the Antelope Valley 10-yard line. Bausley, who had 91 yards on 25 carries in the first half, carried four times but could not penetrate the Marauder defensive line for the score.
Both teams had trouble moving the ball through the air. Hanks completed just 6 of 14 passes for 70 yards.
Valley receiver James Reaves saw limited action in the first half but played a pivotal role in Valley's touchdown.
Behind Bausley's running, Valley moved 79 yards in 21 plays on its first-quarter touchdown drive. With Valley marching toward its first score, a holding penalty pushed the Monarchs back to the Marauder 21. Hanks hit Reaves with a 17-yard pass, then scored two plays later on a two-yard run as time expired in the first quarter.