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Valencia Takes Advantage of Savanna Miscues


Savanna had spent seven weeks building its reputation as a serious contender for the Orange League title this season. But one bad night against Valencia erased all that.

A rash of turnovers--running back Jason Brown fumbled three times and quarterback Robin Dano had two passes intercepted--made it an easy Friday night for host Valencia to win, 27-12.

The Tigers (5-3, 2-1) made the Rebels pay dearly for their transgressions, scoring 24 points off the turnovers. And they put a real crimp into Savanna's playoff hopes while boosting their own.

Leading Valencia was quarterback Jason Annis, who passed for 160 yards and two touchdowns, ran for another and kicked two field goals. Marquis Johnson was his favorite receiver, catching five passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Brown scored one touchdown for Savanna (6-2, 1-2), giving the Rebels a temporary 6-3 lead in the first quarter, and Dano ran in a touchdown with less than a minute to play.

"Games are very crucial now because teams are beginning to separate [in the league standings]," Valencia Coach Mike Marrujo said. "Both teams really needed this game and we were fortunate to win."

After running the wing-T offense for the last 17 years, Marrujo has switched the Tigers to a one-back, four-receiver set this year. "People had gotten too comfortable against us," Marrujo said. "They were able to study film from 10 years ago to defend us. We had to make them work harder."

Valencia has struggled to find consistency with the new system. But by playing opportunistic football Friday, the Tigers were able to end that dubious distinction.

Johnson got the first Valencia interception when he picked off a Dano pass at the Tigers' 26 and returned it 20 yards. Valencia moved to the Rebels' 19 before settling for Annis' 37-yard field goal.

Savanna took the kickoff to its 21 and then took off on its best drive of the half--a 79-yarder in 15 plays, culminated by Brown's one-yard plunge for a touchdown with 6:29 left in the half. A two-point pass play failed.

With 2:53 to play in the half, the Tigers' defense forced Brown to fumble at his 23. The error was compounded by a Savanna unsportsmanlike penalty that placed the ball on the Rebels' 12.

Two plays later, Annis hit Dan Taylor with a seven-yard touchdown pass. With the extra point, Valencia reclaimed the lead at 10-6.

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