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Lancaster football wins shootout with Valley Christian in Division 6 title game

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LANCASTER — On a night when its offense was nearly perfect, the Lancaster High School football team looked to its defense to secure a historic win in the CIF-SS Div. 6 finals.

In the final minutes of the school’s first ever section win, the Eagles got a pair of big plays to secure their 44-42 victory over visiting Cerritos Valley Christian.

“We didn’t play defensively but when the time came and we needed the stops, we got the stops,” said Lancaster coach Brandon Rivers.

The Eagles (9-5) prevented a potentially game-tying score with four minutes to play when junior Zyler Lane broke up a fourth-down touchdown pass. They surrendered a touchdown with 1:31 to go, but the defense stood tall on the two-point conversion to finish off the win.

An impressive second half from junior Ashton Mitchell helped Lancaster keep the ball away from Valley Cristian. He scored twice, finishing with 197 rushing yards on 27 attempts.

“He gave us everything,” said Rivers. “He played his heart and soul out. He hurt his ankle. It’s been bothering him all year. He wouldn’t come out. I’ve gotten a chance to see him work and see him grow to for moments like this and he answered the bell today.”

It didn’t take long for the section final to turn into an offensive shootout.

Both teams scored on their first possessions of the night, and frequently thereafter.

Valley Christian took a 28-22 lead into halftime, powered largely by the impressive play of running back Jojo Apisala.

The sophomore registered 82 rushing yards on 17 first half carries. He scored three touchdowns and added a successful two-point conversion rush to lead the way for the Defenders.

He was also one of their key defensive playmakers early at linebacker. He recorded a pair of tackles for loss in the first half, including one that stopped a two-point conversion attempt.

Quarterback Cedric SaMarion paced the Eagles offense before the break. The dynamic senior quarterback threw a pair of first-half scores.

He connected with sophomore Tory Bolds for a 27-yard score and hit junior Chowlyn Hughes wide open downfield for what ended up being a 47-yard touchdown.

He added a rushing score and another passing touchdown (to Zyler Lane) in the second half.

“He’s a game changer,” said Rivers. “Super dynamic in the run game and pass game for us. He’s a leader for us. We know he’s going to stay cool, calm and collected.”

Defenders quarterback Joe DeYoung was impressive in his own right before the break, going 8-for-11 for 99 yards, including a 24-yard strike to freshman Jaden Hernandez. He connected with Hernandez in the third quarter for another touchdown and tacked on a score to Isaiah Jordan late in the game.

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