East County Sports

Islanders rewrite overtime script

Santana and Coronado battle at the goal line on Friday night. / Ramon Scott



EastCountySports.com staff report
SANTEE — When the Santana Sultans needed a solution to their offensive woes on Friday night, junior Michael Valenzuela was the answer.

Valenzuela scored a pair of improbable touchdowns in the fourth quarter and overtime before the Sultans fell to visiting Coronado, 14-13, at Santee Community Stadium.

Coronado senior Elias Valdivia scored the decisive touchdown on a 25-yard run on the first play of overtime, then after Valenzuela hauled in a 37-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-down heave by quarterback Alex Rico down the right sideline, the Islanders stopped a Sultan pass on a two-point conversion attempt, to drive home with a 14-13 victory on Friday night.

Ironically, the teams were tied at 7-all at the end of regulation for the second-straight year, but it was the Sultans who left the Island with a 10-7 OT win in last year’s season opener.
After the teams could barely make any progress offensively for nearly the first three and a half quarters, the teams finally traded a pair of big plays in the fourth quarter to finally bring some life to the predictably defensive-minded contest.
In fact, it was Valdivia and Valenzuela who made the big plays for the fourth-quarter scores, as well.
While Valdivia is an emerging playmaker for the Islanders, Valenzuela‘a scores were a bit more of a surprise and kept the Sultans immediately in the game on both occasions.
The Islanders finally started to make progress in what looked like it would become a game of field position late, but Coronado would still have to try and find a way to score.
Coronado junior quarterback Graham Bower completed a 34-yard fourth-down pass to Valdivia just beyond a Santana defender that allowed the 6-foot-1 receiver to catch the ball in stride and skip in the last yards for the score.
To some, if not most, that might’ve felt like enough to secure a victory with just under seven minutes to play in the game.
“We tried a couple of times to go deep in the game but they were just out of reach,” Valdivia said. “I knew we could make the connection and that one was perfect.”
Santana, however, made its biggest play in regulation on the ensuing possession as Rico hit Valenzuela with a short pass but in the middle of the Islander secondary. He bounced off and broke away from a couple of jersey tuggers to get away for a 58-yard score to tie the game with 4:25 remaining.
On Coronado’s first play of overtime, Valdivia was told by Coronado head coach and offensive coordinator Kurt Hines to take a direct snap and run a quarterback draw.
The point-after try by Bowers gave the Islanders the 7-point margin and Santana was assessed a penalty on the touchdown and had to start it’s possession at the 40.
After three plays netted just three yards, the Islanders appeared to be closing in on victory, as only a fourth-down miracle could practically give the Sultans a chance.
But that’s when Valenzuela caught the pass by from Rico along the right side and outraced a defender for 10 yards down to somehow come up with a near-miracle score.
Despite the defenses ruling the contest, the Sultans were content to play for the victory but a short out pass to the right of the end zone was too low and incomplete.
Both defenses were stingy and made plays throughout, but there was also plenty of gang tackling on run attempts as the teams amassed just over 140 yards combined until the big plays in the last 6:55 of the fourth.


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