SANTA ANA - Grant Valenstein recovered two fumbles — including one he returned 99 yards for a touchdown — and added an interception to help lead Laguna Hills score a 41-13 victory over Segerstrom on Friday night in a CIF-Southern Section Southern Division quarterfinal game at Segerstrom High.
Segerstrom trailed, 13-0, early in the second quarter and had marched within inches of the goal line before Valenstein’s return.
The Jaguars (7-5) never recovered.
“(The fumble return) changed the game, but not the outcome,” Jaguars coach Mike Maceranka said. “We needed to play a perfect game and we didn’t. That gave us no chance against a great team like Laguna Hills.”
Hawks coach Bruce Ingalls said, “Sometimes, especially in the playoffs, you have to be good, but you also have to get some breaks too.”
The Hawks (10-2) — the defending Southern Division champions — didn’t need many breaks Friday. Laguna Hills had only seven possessions and scored on five of them.
Quarterback Joey Bonutto had two touchdowns on runs of 2 and 4 yards, and Tommy Vorsheck, Jonathan Miranda and Alex Salera each added rushing scores for the Hawks.
“It was a team effort,” said Valenstein, who also had a key interception for the Hawks in Week 2 during their 33-14 victory over Segerstrom.
“Without Mike Vandal making a great play and stripping the ball, and a couple of blocks, I don’t make that play. It was a total team effort tonight.”
“He must like this field,” Ingalls said. “He was at the right place at the right time tonight.”
Segerstrom’s scores came in the second half. The first was on a 1-yard run by Justin Mills, and the second was a 29-yard touchdown reception by Atlas Smith from quarterback Brian Murrietta. Murrietta finished 8 of 10 for 141 yards.
Laguna Hills advances to the semifinals where it will face La Mirada, which routed Santiago, 40-0, on Friday.
“We’re happy to be in the semifinals,” Ingalls said. “We’re playing well at a time when we need to be playing well.”