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Yuba City takes seventh annual Mayor's Cup
Honkers wear down Falcons in 2nd half
For the first time in seven meetings, Friday night's annual Mayor's Cup clash between River Valley and Yuba City High carried more weight than just bragging rights.
A win by the up-and-coming Falcons would give RV a share of the Tri-County Conference title, while a victory by the Honkers would give a proud program its first outright league championship since that historic season some 25 years ago.
And in the first half, it was anyone's ballgame. The two teams traded jabs early before the Honkers took a slim 7-3 lead into break.
But like they have all season, Yuba City made the adjustments, went back to basics and turned the game around.
Led by the backfield duo of senior Nate Van Dusen and junior Omar Herrera, Yuba City used its patented running game to wear down the Falcons in the second half en route to a 29-3 victory before a near capacity crowd at Honker Stadium.
With the victory, Yuba City ended its regular season with a 9-1 record and a perfect 5-0 mark in the TCC, ending Inderkum's five-year reign atop the standings.
"It's nice to bring it back to this school. This is the school I'm from, and I'm back here for this school," said Yuba City coach John Ithurburn, who was a key member of the Honkers' Delta League championship team as a senior in 1987. "I love this place and I'm happy we were able to do this. The kids deserve it."
River Valley came out ready to play, though.
With key injuries to two of their top playmakers, the Falcons (6-4, 3-2) unleashed their own power running game and moved the ball 59 yards on the first possession of the night before bogging down at the Honkers' 9-yard line.
Yuba City countered with a 57-yard march that was halted at the Falcons' 8, and the first quarter ended in a scoreless deadlock.
The Honkers finally got on the board in the second quarter on a quick two-play drive keyed by a beautiful 30-yard pass completion from Taylor Elkins to Louis Mowers. Van Dusen rumbled in on a 9-yard scoring burst up the middle on the next play, giving Yuba City a 7-0 lead.
River Valley answered Van Dusen's score with a 41-yard field goal by Triston Montoya to make it a four-point game at the intermission before the Honkers took things over in the second half.
"It was an ugly first half. We made some mistakes, missed some blocks and they played us tough," Ithurburn said. "I was too mad to make a speech."
The Honkers stuck quickly after the break when Devin Pettengill returned the second-half kick off 45 yards, setting up a 4-yard TD run by Van Dusen just 40 seconds in. Pettengill also added the 2-point conversion to give YC a 15-3 cushion.
After that it was all Honkers as the 1-2 punch of Herrera and Van Dusen chewed up yardage as well as the clock.
Herrera scooted 29 yards for a touchdown late in the third period and Van Dusen added his third TD of the game on another short run in the fourth to complete the scoring.
Kyle Magenheimer led the Falcons with 68 yards on 18 carries, but River Valley could only muster 57 yards of offense in the second half.
"We're not a pound-the-ball kind of team, but with all our injuries, we had no other options," River Valley coach Brandon Asher said. "I'm proud of our defense. We hung with them in the first half, but we couldn't generate enough offense in the second half and left them on the field too long."
Herrera finished with 11 carries for 115 yards, while Van Dusen bulldozed his way for 170 yards on 26 carries and three scores.
"I couldn't wait for tonight. It's been two years since I played these guys," said Van Dusen, who missed last year's Mayor's Cup with a shoulder injury. "In the second half we came out fired up and everyone did what they were supposed to do and we got the win. 9-1 and a league championship feels good."
Yuba City's junior varsity team defeated River Valley (8-2) 41-20 to clinch the TCC title with a 10-0 record.
It was the Honkers' third consecutive conference title at the JV level.