Paloma Valley football team makes plays down the stretch to beat Moreno Valley – Press Enterprise

MORENO VALLEY — Paloma Valley coach Juan Merida called the his team’s 27-20 win over Moreno Valley on Thursday night a complete team victory. You kind of got the feeling that Merida might have talked all night to give credit to deserving individuals.

“The defense picked up the offense and the offense picked up the defense,” Merida said. “They (Moreno Valley) are a physical team and we made a couple more plays than they did.”

The lead changed hands four times, and both teams were able to move the ball successfully during the course of the game.

Damian Ramirez ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 8:03 remaining in the third quarter. The score gave Paloma Valley (2-0) the lead for keeps, but it was anything but comfortable.

Trailing 20-18, Moreno Valley (1-1) drove the ball to the Wildcats 1 and had a third-and-goal. Tre Williams was the Vikings’ top offensive threat but lost four yards. On fourth down, kicker Diego Ornelas attempted a 22-yard field goal to put Moreno Valley ahead. Aaron Young rushed from the edge and blocked the kick.

Paloma Valley quarterback Brady Nelson threw an interception when his pass bounced off the hands of Na’kyi Lathan and was grabbed by Moreno Valley defensive back Syree Mathews. Paloma Valley came up with another big play when they needed it.

Arthur Clemons came right up the middle to sack Moreno Valley quarterback Cisco Lopez. Clemons forced a fumble which was recovered by teammate Luke Burton at the Moreno Valley 32. Nelson had a 14-yard run to the 18, and scored on a 5-yard touchdown run with 9:09 remaining in the game.

Moreno Valley came back with a scoring drive set up by running back Tre Williams’s 52-yard run in the fourth quarter. The Vikings drove to the 4-yard-line, but Lathan broke up a pass in the end zone to keep Paloma Valley’s 27-18 advantage.

Ramirez gained 78 yards on 18 carries. Ramirez is about 5-foot-6 and runs sprints on the track team.

“Speed kills,” Merida said, adding that he encourages football players to go on the track team to develop speed. Merida also is the track coach at Paloma Valley.

“Our offensive line was fantastic tonight.” Merida said. “Nathan Rodriguez, Gavin Fairbairn, Eddie Cortez, Juan Gonzalez, and Jayden Hershey did their jobs.”

The punt team showed shortcomings, but Merida said the special teams improved considerably over the preceding week. He credited assistant coach Tom Wallace with organizing things.

“We have to be more consistent and improve each week,” Merida said.

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