VHS football edged in semifinals at Aztec, 47-41

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The Valencia High football team’s impressive run is over.

The Jaguars dropped a 47-41 decision at Aztec in Saturday’s Class 4A state semifinals, ending Valencia’s season with an 11-1 record.

A 68-yard touchdown run by Aztec’s Michael Perry with 4:11 to play put the Tigers ahead for good, and the hosts recovered a fumble by the Jaguars with 2:45 to go. Perry helped the Tigers pick up a few key first downs as Aztec ran out the clock.

Aztec (12-0) will host Goddard next Saturday at 1 p.m. in the 4A title game.

Valencia’s Noah Brown had a pair of second-half touchdown runs, including a 24-yard run with 7:22 left in the game.

After Brown’s last TD, Lucero completed a 43-yard pass to Brad Hardin that set up a 1-yard run by Bryce Grady that pulled Aztec to within 41-39.

The Jags’ ascent to the 4A semifinals came in their fourth year of varsity, and three years after a 1-9 season.

“This is such an awesome group of kids,” said VHS coach Kelley Lee. “They’re so coachable, and they practice well and play well.”

Valencia, the No. 3 seed in 4A, got 180 yards from Brown. Quarterback Jude Pepke completed 6-of-9 passes for 122 yards, including scoring tosses to Robert Carrasco and Isaac Gonzales.

Carrasco, also a defensive back, left the game early in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. He and Gonzales also ran for touchdowns. The Jaguars rushed for 359 yards in the game.

Aztec quarterback Adam Lucero was nearly perfect through the air, completing 29-of-34 passes for 265 yards with no interceptions and four touchdowns, three to Ty Atencio.

Aztec had to overcome 34-19 and 41-31 deficits in the second half.

The No. 2 seed Tigers were outgained in total offense by the Jaguars, 471-468.

Look for more coverage of the Jags’ first-ever state semifinal appearance in the Wednesday, Nov. 30 issue of the News-Bulletin.