MORENO VALLEY, CA - Rancho Verde faced a first-and-goal inside the Cajon five-yard line late in the fourth quarter. Junior running back Xavier Ugorji fumbled, and Cajon lateraled to Jerome Weber, who took the ball 96-yards back to put the Cowboys up by 40. This play was symbolic of how the night went for both teams, with a Southern California Division 2-AA title and state championship trip to Sacramento on the line.
Cajon-San Bernardino traveled to Rancho Verde-Moreno Valley and dominated from start to finish, by a final score of 70-23. Star dual-threat quarterback Jayden Daniels led Cajon with three total scores, two passing and one rushing.
“We makin’ history out here, this stuff has never been done in Cajon history,” he said.
Senior running back Joseph Yarber tore through the Verde defense for 84 yards and three touchdowns, playing a huge role in Cajon’s 70-point performance.
“We’re not done yet and are taking this kind of light because we know there’s something bigger ahead. There’s bigger fish to fry.”
On the defensive end, highly touted junior linebacker Jonathan Perkins returned an interception for a touchdown. “Our defense just clicked and we really shut them down the whole game,” he said. Quarterback Brock White led Rancho Verde with 140 yards, completing 12 out of 21 passes. Ugorji added another 148 yards on the ground and one touchdown, while sophomore Jordan Jefferson rushed for 114 yards.
After his team’s defeat, head coach Jeff Steinberg said, “I just had to tell my team I love them, and while tonight we weren’t at our best, we played a terrific team. This one game does not define us.” He added, “we accomplished things that most people outside the program didn’t think we’d be able to with such a young, inexperienced team.”
Cajon opened up action scoring 20 unanswered points, off two Yarber touchdown runs and one more from Daniels. Rancho Verde played sloppy to start, fumbling the ball away on just their second possession of the game. To make things worse for Steinberg, Cajon caught them off guard with an onside kick, recovering the ball inside the 45-yard line.
To end the first quarter, Jefferson broke off a 45-yard run from the Rancho Verde 37, giving the Mustangs some life down 20-0. White capitalized on the scoring opportunity, taking it himself for a three yard touchdown. Wideout Jasiah Richard-Lewis followed by scoring on a two-point conversion attempt, making the score 21-8.
The Rancho Verde defense responded with a key stop, and suddenly, the Mustangs found themselves right back in the game. What came next was the story of this matchup, another Rancho Verde turnover. Cajon jumped on yet another loose football, setting up shop at the enemy 36-yard line.
Moments later, Weber scored from 29 yards out, and Daniels added two more with a successful conversion dash past the pylon. The Rancho Verde offense continued to struggle, as Perkins picked off White and brought it back to the house 20 yards. Another Daniels two point score extended Cajon’s lead to 36-8, with 7:14 left in the first half.
Cajon ended the quarter with two more scores, a 16-yard Yarber run and Daniel Fortune kick return, to complete a 50-point first half. Ugorji broke off a 66-yard touchdown run for Rancho Verde, but six first half turnovers negated any offensive momentum.
Rancho Verde scored on their first possession of the second half, thanks to a 15-yard Jamar Simpson catch and run. Daniels continued to pour it on the Rancho Verde defense, leading the Cajon offense to two more second half touchdowns. Cajon’s 13th straight victory solidifies a trip to Sacramento next week, to face off against San Mateo Serra for a state championship.