Murrieta Valley fights back in second half to win, 65-48

By Tim Sahar For the second straight week, Murrieta Valley’s football season seemed to be on the brink of elimination after the first h...

By Tim Sahar

For the second straight week, Murrieta Valley’s football season seemed to be on the brink of elimination after the first half Friday night, with the defense looking out of place and the opponents scoring efficiently.

Something changed at halftime, though. Whether it was a motivational speech by coach George Wilson or a 15-minute rest period to get everything back on track, the Nighthawks entered the second half with a different level of swagger.

As a result, Murrieta Valley stomped Norco High 65-48 in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 quarterfinals in a game that had a total of over 1,200 yards in total offense. Quarterback Hank Bachmeier completed 28 of 37 passes for an astonishing 416 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target, Marquis Spiker, had his best game of the year, catching 15 balls for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Lika Palmer was the bread and butter for the ground game as usual, rushing 36 times for 344 yards and four touchdowns.

Murrieta Valley (10-2) will play at La Habra (8-4) in the semifinals next Friday.

With the offensive numbers looking incomprehensible, the defensive side of the field couldn’t buy a single stop in the first two quarters.

"We still need to do a better job at the start of the first quarter," Wilson said. "We’re putting ourselves in tough situations."

They did just that, as the Nighthawks had no answer for Norco running back Travis Dye early on. Dye rushed for 242 first-alf yards and outran each player on the field for a breakaway 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game. The Cougars eventually took a comfortable 28-17 lead late in the second period.

A big turning point was during the final minute of the first half, when Bachmeier connected with Spiker on a high-arching 30-yard touchdown throw that Spiker caught leaping over his defender. Two plays later, MVHS cornerback Kelley Coleman picked off Norco quarterback Nick Lasher.

"I told them if we don’t strengthen up, the season is going to be over," Wilson said.

In the beginning of the third quarter, Bachmeier found Spiker again for 54 yards, then scored on a 2-yard fake hand-off sneak. That gave the Nighthawks a 31-28 lead.

"Our O-line is insane. The only reason I can get (receptions) is because of our O-line," Spiker said. "They’ll give you the time as long as you make it shine."

As soon as Murrieta Valley took the lead, the Nighthawks never looked back. Their defense played the best it has all season, invariably suffocating any run game attempted by Norco. Passing went downhill for the Cougars as well, since they did not record a single reception in the third quarter.

The Nighthawks then enjoyed a time when anything they did went in their favor. Back-to-back sacks from Marshall Gonzaba and Tevin Teague helped clear the deck for a Bachmeier-TJ Griffin 71-yard score.

Once Murrieta Valley completed more passes, they ran the ball more effectively and the game started coming to them.

Norco (7-5) continued its fight back in the game with end zone grabs from Jorge Alvarado and Noah Bogardus, but it was too late. Spiker caught another touchdown heave for 26 ards and Palmer capped off the game on a 44-yard score in the final minute of the fourth.

Murrieta Valley (10-2) will play at La Habra (8-4) in the semifinals next Friday.

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