CALABASAS — Back and forth, Calabasas and Valencia took turns lighting up the scoreboard Thursday night.
Calabasas quarterback Jaden Casey and his receivers picked apart Valencia’s secondary. Valencia running back Moises Haynes wore down defenders one carry at a time.
Calabasas prevailed 65-63 at home after stopping Valencia on 4th down and Casey, starting only his fifth varsity game, finished with eight touchdowns and two interceptions in another non league thriller between both teams.
“I thought this would be low-scoring but I knew it’d be close,” said Casey, who finished 29-of-54 with 558 yards. “I love games like this.”
It was a fitting home opener for Calabasas (5-0) debuting its brand new field turf and with both the Coyotes and Valencia having explosive offenses, they broke it in with style.
Casey’s final touchdown came on a 10-yard pass to Mycah Pittman with 3:35 left that made it 65-56. Valencia (4-1) quickly drove down the field and Haynes scored from 2 yards out, his fourth touchdown of the game.
Calabasas recovered the onside kick but on 3rd down, Jake Santos intercepted Casey’s pass to give Valencia one last chance with 1:46 pass. But on 4th-and-inches, Valencia elected to pass and Connor Downs’ attempt was broken up.
“We were trying to get Mykael going across the field and hoping to have him break it b/c we knew they were going to stuff the line,” Valencia coach Larry Muir said. “In a game like that, you make calls and sometimes you want to get one back.”
It concluded a wild fourth quarter where both teams combined for 35 points. Calabasas’ Jackson Despain recovered a fumble and Spencer Mair had an interception.
Haynes ran for 217 yards on 34 carries and Downs threw for 417 yards on 24-for-35 passing and had a touchdown pass to Mykael Wright. Downs also ran for a 1-yard touchdown.
Twice, Calabasas rallied from 12-point deficits with Casey relying on Mycah Pittman, Nikko Hall and Johnny Wilson. Wilson and Pittman each had three touchdowns and Hall, in his second game back from injury, scored two on 43 and 54 yards.
“I believe we have the best receiving corps in the country. I’m just appreciative we have depth,” said Pittman, who had seven catches for 142 yards.
Wilson had 174 receiving yards in the first half and finished with 217 yards on 10 catches. Hall had five catches for 179 yards.
Calabasas led 30-28 at halftime and Valencia opened the third with a six-yard touchdown by Jayvaun Wilson. After Wright deflected a 4th down pass by Calabasas, the Valencia junior found the end zone on a 25-yard pass from Downs to make it 42-30.
Wilson finished with three rushing touchdowns but left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return. Anthony Hernandez had an interception and sack for Valencia.
Haynes added a 22-yard touchdown to make it 49-37 but Calabasas began its climb back. Pittman scored on a 30-yard pass and the Coyotes recovered a Valencia fumble to end the third.
In a game where defense nearly took a back seat, Calabasas forced four turnovers and also got a 32-yard field goal from Mike Engler in the first quarter. Keithan Gooden had Calabasas’ lone rushing touchdown on an 80-yard run.
“Coach Casey keeps saying compete, compete, compete,” Casey said, “If you compete harder than the other team, you’ll come away with the win.”
With both teams in Division 2 in the CIF Southern Section, the game very well could have been a playoff preview. Muir admitted as much during his team’s postgame huddle.
“That’s the whole idea of preseason. You want to play teams to see where you’re at and how to get better,” Muir said, “We learned a lot from tonight and hats off to Calabasas. We had our chacnces at the end but we’ll learn from it.”
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