HS Football: Temecula Valley Holds Off Murrieta Mesa’s Fourth Quarter Rally to Win 18-13 Thursday Night

Golden Bear Quarterback Easton Gibbs Threw Two Touchdowns, had an Interception made 11 Tackles

Temecula Valley held off a late Murrieta Mesa fourth quarter rally to beat the Rams 18-13 on a rare Thursday night Southwestern league game. The victory was sweet for the Golden Bears, who finished the regular season with a 5-5 record and most likely secured a Division 8 playoff berth.

Temecula went win less last season and 1-11 the year before that. This year, they ended up being ranked ninth in their Division in the CIF Southern Section Polls last Monday.

It was a great night for my boys and our community. Temecula Valley has gone through a lot of struggles over the years and so it is awesome that they should have this” said Golden Bears Head Coach Bert Esposito. “My boys played a solid defensive game and earned their way into the playoffs”.

Bears quarterback Easton Gibbs led Temecula Valley on both sides of the ball Thursday night. The senior threw 2 touchdown passes whil completing 18 of 28 passes for 177 yards. He was all over the field on defense too, coming up with an interception and making 11 tackles

Easton is just one of the best I’ve ever been around,” said Coach Esposito. “He’s not even a pure quarterback. He’s just a tough kid and a phenomenal person. I have the ultimate respect for him. He loves his teammates and his teammates love him.”

Gibbs got the Golden Bears on the scoreboard on Temecula Valley’s opening drive. The Wyoming bound senior spotted wide receiver Dylan Sigman wide open in the end zone and threw a strike for a 23-yard touchdown. The extra point was missed and Temecula led 6-0.

The game turned into a defensive battle until the Golden Bears scored again late in the third quarter. Gibbs and Sigman hooked up again with a pass into the corner of the end zone for Temecula Valley’s second score of the night. The Bears failed to make the 2 point conversion again and led 12-0.

A Murrieta Mesa special teams mistake led to the Golden Bears’ final score in the fourth quarter. Temecula Valley recovered a fumbled Ram punt return on their own 44-yard line.

Gibbs drove the Bears downfield and orchestrated another TD. Anson Pulsipher picked up teammate Logan Moreno’s fumble and took it 15-yards into the end zone for a touchdown. Temecula failed to convert the 2 points again to take a 18-0 lead.

The Rams offense finally woke from it’s slumber late in the fourth quarter. Murrieta Mesa scored two quick touchdowns, first, a four yard TD pass from quarterback Austin Cochren to Andrew Morris.

Cochren then hit wide receiver Damian Thompson with a 52-yard touchdown pass and run to make it 18-13 with 3 minutes left in the game. Cochren ended the game completing 19 of 36 passes for 231 yards.

Temecula Valley would shut down the Rams fourth rally and secure the victory. Both teams will learn their CIF Southern Section playoff fates Sunday. “We made some mistakes and didn’t capitalize,” said Mesa Head Coach Darrel Turner. “If we make the playoffs, we have to fix those, especially in Division 3.”

In other Southwestern League action, Vista Murrieta beat Murrieta Valley 35-21 to win the league Championship. Great Oak fell to Chaparral 28-7.

Murrieta Mesa     0  0  0  13   13

Temecula Valley  6  0  6   6    18


Southwestern League Standings

Vista Murrieta 5-0

Murrieta Valley 4-1

Murrieta Mesa 2-3

Temecula Valley 2-3

Chaparral 2-3

Great Oak 0-5

Photos by Scott Padgett , Alicia Salcedo & Kelli Esposito