VALENCIA – The Oaks Christian football team scored three touchdowns in the first five minutes of the third quarter and beat Valencia, 42-33, in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoffs on Friday night.
The game was tied, 14-14, at halftime. Oaks Christian broke the tie and built a 34-14 lead on three touchdown passes by quarterback Richie Harrington.
Two of those touchdown passes went to Jordan Payton. Carlos Mendoza came up with a key interception in the middle of the Oaks Christian scoring spree. Blair Holliday started the touchdown barrage with his first of two touchdown catches in the game.
Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell said his team made an impressive turnaround after coming close to self-destructing in the first half.
“We were inside the 15 three times and didn’t score any points,” Redell said. “The interception, that helped. We started hitting our receivers.”
Valencia (11-2) pooched the opening kickoff of the second half and Oaks Christian (11-2) returned it to the Valencia 35-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Harrington hit Holliday with a touchdown pass to put Oaks Christian up 20-14.
Valencia went three and out on its next drive. Oaks Christian took over on its own 37-yard line and capped a five-play scoring drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Payton with 8:04 to play in the third quarter.
With Oaks Christian up 27-14, Valencia’s Steven Manfro returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards, but it was called back to the 9-yard line because of a holding penalty.
Valencia quarterback Alex Bishop threw an interception to Mendoza and Oaks Christian took over on the Valencia 19-yard line.
Harrington threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Payton to put Oaks Christian up 34-14 with 7:24 to play in the third quarter.
Oaks Christian added another touchdown with under a minute to play in the third quarter to take a 42-21 lead.
Payton caught 10 passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns. In addition to his two touchdown catches in the third quarter, he also caught a 6-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Harrington threw for 276 yards and five touchdowns. Holliday caught five passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
Oaks Christian running back Ishmael Adams rushed for 144 yards on 11 carries. He scored the first touchdown for Oaks Christian on a 75-yard run in the first quarter.
Down 42-21, Valencia scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Max Rodriguez caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Bishop to cut the lead to 42-27 with 6:14 to play in the game.
Tedric Thompson made it a little closer with a 12-yard touchdown reception. Valencia trailed, 42-33, with 3:01 to play.
“(Oaks Christian) got it going in the second half,” Valencia coach Larry Muir said. “They got something going. Our kids competed all the way through. There was no quit in any of our kids. We really have special kids here.”
Bishop threw for 351 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions.
Manfro gained 128 rushing yards and scored a touchdown for Valencia. He set school records with 4,362 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns in his senior season.
Oaks Christian will play Westlake in the championship game of the Northern Division playoffs next Friday.