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MISSION VIEJO – The scene was all too familiar for the Capistrano Valley football team. The Cougars took a quick lead behind a dynamic attack, but then struggled to fend off their visiting opponent.
Only this time, Capo Valley played in the fourth quarter to protect his lead and came away with a 38-30 victory over Sunny Hills on Friday night.
In their first game of the season against Tustin, the Cougars held a 14-point lead at halftime, but ended up losing in overtime.
“I just felt like we were a team tonight,” Cougars coach Sean Curtis said. “We told them (after last week’s loss) that we were probably going to be in this moment again, so let’s be smart.”
The Cougars were led by quarterback Trey Kukuk, who threw for 325 yards and five touchdowns and had two receivers with 100-yard evenings. Dane Benedix caught seven passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns and Owen Taylor who finished with 103 receiving yards.
Taylor’s touchdown in the back corner of the end zone with 4:35 left gave the Cougars an eight-point advantage and that was enough for the win.
“We knew they were going to keep fighting until the last whistle, so going up eight gave us that confidence,” said Curtis.
Juan Segura sacked Sunny Hills quarterback Max Spero twice in the last two practices to help secure the win.
The Lancers struck first with an 80-yard run led by David Mahood and ended with a 20-yard pass from Spero to Dylan Lawson to make it 7-0. Mahood finished with 143 rushing yards.
Capo Valley responded with 21 straight points as Kukuk dealt the ball to Mark Hopkins and Benedix early and often.
“He can still improve, that’s the fun part,” Curtis said of Kukuk. “He has such a good understanding of offense, handles it well and plays at a very high level.”
Trey Kukuk led Capo Valley to a decisive victory over Sunny Hills and thanks his WRs and defense for their contributions. @ocvarsity @capofootball @treykukuk @CoachSeanCurtis pic.twitter.com/JHTqq5I4Gd
– David Delgado🇪🇨 (@DavidDelgado_OC) August 28, 2021
“They’re really athletic at quarterback,” said Sunny Hills coach Pete Karavedas. “He’s exceptional, and these receivers are exceptional. We have done all we can to stay with them.
Sunny Hills scored a rushed touchdown – by Chris Pinawin – then recovered a safety when the Cougars punter threw the ball to the back of the end zone after the snap went over his head.
Security reduced the Cougars’ lead to 21-16.
The Lancers took a 23-21 halftime lead after a 34-yard grab by Nick Wilde.
Capo Valley and Sunny Hills traded touchdowns in the third. Hopkins scored on a 15-yard catch, then Nick Wilde scored for the Lancers on a 10-yard run to give Sunny Hills a 30-28 advantage.
The Cougars took the lead in earnest on Dylan Fingersh’s 27-yard field goal to take the score to 31-30 early in the fourth.
Kukuk led the final strike, using his legs to keep the strike alive on a third down with incredible spinning motion for a 16-yard gain.
“When he does these things with his feet, the spinning motion at the end of the game, it’s just that added bonus,” Curtis said.