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Valley / Ventura County Sports

Valencia Takes the Long Road to 17-14 Defeat

Football: Vikings have problems with their bus, then struggle on the field in nonleague loss to Serra.

September 26, 1998|MIKE BRESNAHAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

GARDENA — Manuel White may be back in good health, but his team was ailing Friday night.

Valencia High overcame an extremely sluggish start and rallied, but lost to Serra, 17-14, in a nonleague football game at Serra.

The Vikings, ranked No. 3 in the region by The Times, received 142 yards rushing and a touchdown in 27 carries by White, but not much else.

A last-minute Valencia drive stalled at the Serra 13-yard line, the final blow coming on an incomplete pass by Brian Hamilton with 11 seconds left.

The Vikings (2-1) had problems from the time they left campus.

One of the two team buses had a flat tire, so the Valencia coaches and players squeezed onto one bus, only to have the driver take a wrong turn and end up in Malibu.

The Vikings arrived at Serra less than an hour before kickoff. Total travel time: Two hours, 20 minutes.

"It was a trek," Valencia Coach Brian Stiman said.

So was the second-half comeback.

Down 14-0 at halftime, the Vikings promptly gave up a field goal on Serra's opening drive of the second half and trailed, 17-0.

But White, held to 57 yards rushing in the first half, began to find seams in the defense.

He ripped through two tacklers and down the right sideline for a 38-yard touchdown and sliced the Serra lead to 17-6. The extra point was blocked.

White, who contracted a viral infection and lost 15 pounds last month, ran for 85 second-half yards against the swarming, speedy Serra defense.

"We came out and did what we had to do, but it was too late," White said.

White had only four yards rushing after the first quarter.

Hamilton had problems all night, throwing two interceptions and completing only five of 17 passes for 80 yards.

The Vikings had driven to the Serra 13 with 11 seconds left in the first half, when Mike Smith intercepted Hamilton in the end zone.

"Awful night," Stiman said of his team. "What could go wrong, did go wrong tonight."

Serra (2-1) had several costly miscues in a loss last week against Narbonne, including two fumbles inside the Narbonne 20-yard line and a dropped pass in the end zone.

Though far from perfect, the Cavaliers were better during crunch time against Valencia, converting a fourth-and-one at midfield with 5:32 left that allowed them to keep the ball for three more minutes.

"If we had punted the ball, we're saying we can't be physical with them," Serra Coach Charles Nash said.

Smith opened the scoring on Serra's first drive with an 18-yard reception from Robert Lewis.

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