MORENO VALLEY — Despite an injury to a key player, Hemet’s football team stayed true to itself and its expanding game plan.
Dennis Olguin tiptoed the sideline to haul in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Draven Lopez with 34 seconds remaining as Hemet rallied to defeat Moreno Valley 21-20 in a pivotal Inland Valley League game on Thursday night.
“It doesn’t even feel real,” said Olguin, who finished with two receptions on the night. “I caught that ball, saw the referee’s two hands up and I was so hyped!”
Hemet’s leading rusher Daniel Mendoza was injured early but Lopez was 16 of 25 passing for 174 yards and two touchdowns as Hemet (6-1 overall, 2-0 Inland Valley) won its fourth consecutive game.
“Even though we had one of our main players get injured we had to win it for him,” Olguin said.
A.J. Anderson rushed for 98 yards and two scores but it wasn’t enough for Moreno Valley (5-2, 1-1), which lost at home for the first time this season.
“We got robbed. It was just a really poorly officiated game,” said Moreno Valley head coach Ted Wadkins, who contended that Olguin was out of bounds when he made the catch.
Hemet, which lost both games against Moreno Valley when the two programs last played a home-and-road series in 2012-13, totaled just 51 yards in the first half and trailed by two touchdowns before getting on the scoreboard.
Mendoza entered Week 7 with 107 rushing attempts for 916 yards and nine touchdowns but suffered an injury to his right arm on the third play from scrimmage and did not return.
“We had to make some adjustments when Mendoza went out early and some guys had to step into some roles,” Hemet coach Jeff Galloway said.
Hemet receiver Tyler Trout caught a career-high nine balls for 80 yards.
Moreno Valley, which last qualified for the CIF-SS playoffs in 2019, got out to a lead in the first quarter when Anderson capped a short drive with a 9-yard scoring blast behind his left tackle.
The Vikings grabbed a 12-0 lead in the second quarter when Julian Mosely hit the jet sweep around the right side and went 52 yards, outrunning Hemet’s defense for a touchdown.
Adoniz Hill, who was 9 of 10 for 174 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-0 win over Canyon Springs last week, was just 8 of 22 passing in the Vikings’ first loss since Week 2.
Hemet received the ball to begin the second half and Lopez led the Bulldogs on a six-play drive that culminated with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Orion Hudson for a 14-12 lead.
After trading possessions, Moreno Valley’s Ty’Jon Pryor picked off Lopez in the end zone to start the fourth quarter to give the Vikings the ball at their own 20 before Hill scrambled 76 yards down on first down to Hemet’s 4. Anderson bulldozed his way in for a 20-14 lead.
Without his team’s leading rusher, Lopez continued to press the ball down the field and after getting the ball back with less than 2 minutes to play, finished off the win by connecting with Olguin, who caught the ball and dragged his back foot to score the game-winner.