Murrieta Valley beats Mesa, wraps up league title

By Tim Sahar Murrieta Valley High School had yet another impressive outing in its 56-27 victory over Murrieta Mesa Friday night to wrap u...

By Tim Sahar

Murrieta Valley High School had yet another impressive outing in its 56-27 victory over Murrieta Mesa Friday night to wrap up the Southwestern League title undefeated.

The Nighthawks came into the game looking to end their regular season with a bang and they did just that.

Running back Lika Palmer had one of his best games of the year, carrying the ball 15 times for a staggering 264 yards to go along with 2 touchdowns. Austin Bacher added 83 yards on 9 carries.

The Rams were digging deep but simply could not find an answer on how to stop Palmer, who constantly refined his running maneuvers to be less predictable and more effective on the ground. Meanwhile, quarterback Hank Bachmeier had another strong performance, completing 13 of 18 passes for 159 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Wide receiver TJ Griffin caught 4 passes for 64 yards and 1 touchdown. Marquis Spiker had 5 catches for 49 yards and 1 touchdown.

The Nighthawks were effective once again on special teams. Maurice Bell returned a kickoff 98 yards to the house midway in the first quarter. Palmer nearly broke out on another kickoff return in the second quarter, but still managed to get a solid 55 yards, and then another 68 yards after that in the third quarter.

The best play of the game might have been the fake hand-off from Bachmeier to Palmer that faked Mesa’s defense and had Bachmeier running it in for a 40-yard touchdown. That was Murrieta Valley’s second attempt of a fake rush play in the last two weeks that turned out successful.

Murrieta Mesa running back Kai Thompson also had himself a field day, rushing for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries.

Even though Thompson is 5 feet 7 inches and the smallest player on the field, he kept banging and went head-hunting against the Nighthawks’ enormous linemen and linebackers each time he had the chance. He simply would not back down, nor did the Rams ever give up or put their heads down in this contest.

In most cases, the team that has the upper hand on time of possession throughout the game has the advantage. This was not the case, as basically each possession for Murrieta Mesa took a good chunk of time, whether the Rams scored or not.

Murrieta Valley eased its way into the end zone time and time again after just a few short minutes of possession time, however.

This has been the Nighthawks’ identity all year long, and it’s been ridiculously successful thus far. Score quick and score easy.

Murrieta Valley (8-2) finished league play at 5-0, while Murrieta Mesa (5-5) completed league competition at 2-3.

No opponent has been announced to play the Nighthawks in next week's playoff matchup, though Murrieta Valley is scheduled to play at home when playoff pairings are announced Sunday. As for the Rams, they still have a chance to make it into the postseason, depending on rankings of other schools.


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