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Jalen Lewis comes up with clutch catch in Placer's win

Late interception helps preserve Hillmen win against Honkers
By: Matthew Kimel / Journal sports editor
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Jalen Lewis grabbed five balls for 70 yards Friday night.


But the senior’s biggest catch of the night wasn’t thrown by his own quarterback.


With his team up by two points late in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Lewis intercepted a Taylor Elkins pass to give Placer the ball back inside of the red zone.


“They were throwing slants all day long,” said Lewis, whose pick setup a late touchdown to give Placer (4-0) a 42-33 victory over previously unbeaten Yuba City (4-1). “We made an adjustment on the sideline … and I took advantage of it.”


Hillmen quarterback Peter Denham was impressed by all of Lewis’ catches on the night.


“He made a great play on that interception,” said Denham, who found a wide-open Todd Vallerie in the end zone for a score after Lewis’ big play. “That was the nail in the coffin.”


Denham, who also threw a TD to Stone Sander and ran for another, said the team worked all week on preparing for Yuba City’s secondary coverage.


“Their corners were playing off,” he said. “Jalen ran good routes and got open. We worked on timing all week. We knew their corners would play interesting coverage, more off the line, and so we knew outs would be big. So we worked on that all week.”


Lewis’ catches all went for 10 yards or more (14, 15, 16, 10, 15).


“We ran good routes, threw crisp balls and did what we had to do,” the wide receiver-defensive back said. “We ran the routes, made completions and got first downs.”
Though Placer won, it wasn’t all pretty.


After the Hillmen jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead, Yuba City made adjustments and nearly tied the score up.


The Honkers, typically a run-first team, shifted away from their veer attack to a spread offense after being held to 47 rushing yards in the first half.


Elkins (17 of 38, 323 yards, three TDs) picked apart Placer’s defense and got his team back into the game.


The Honkers came within 28-27 after a score on a 99-yard drive with 16 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Austin Pinkston’s extra point attempt, however, ricocheted off the right post and was no good.


It also didn’t help the Hillmen’s cause that after they took a three-score lead, they had a turnover on downs, two botched snaps and a fumble lost.


“It’s a wake-up call,” Montoya said. “Not to take anything away from Yuba City, but we were very sloppy tonight. Offensively, we had a lot of penalties, turnovers, in particular the one at the 1-yard line. And defensively we kept giving up the slant.


“… We found out we’re not invincible.”


Nonetheless, the Hillmen’s perfect record remains intact, partially due to Lewis’ clutch catch late in the game.


“He absolutely played great tonight,” Montoya said of Lewis. “The interception at the end there, that’s the great thing about these kids. I’m proud of them. They never panic. They fought through the adversity we faced and we were able to come away with the victory. And an ugly win is still a win.”

Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel for live updates from future games.