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By MANNY ALVAREZ | firstname.lastname@example.org | Correspondent / Orange County Register
PUBLISHED: October 23, 2021 at 1:12 a.m. | UPDATED: October 23, 2021 at 1:12 a.m.
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MISSION VIEJO >> With so much on the line for Capistrano Valley and Trabuco Hills in a tight Sea View League race, it was natural to expect that both football teams would battle to the end Friday night.
But no one probably expected an instant classic that will probably be talked about for a long time.
Trey Kukuk nearly broke an Orange County record as he passed for 611 yards to lead Capistrano Valley to a 59-56 victory over Trabuco Hills at Capistrano Valley High.
Kukuk finished 2 yards short of the OC record held by Connor Manning, who threw for 613 yards in a game for El Toro in 2012.
Following a Drew Barrett 2-yard touchdown run that gave Trabuco Hills the lead with less than a minute left, Kukuk drove the Cougars down the field. He connected with Dane Benedix for a 30-yard touchdown pass to give Capo Valley the lead with six seconds left.
“This was amazing,” Kukuk said. “We talked earlier after the tough loss last week (to El Toro). All week we talked about coming together as a family. We talked about battling for all four quarters and that is exactly what we did. It came down to the last second.
“I’m just so proud of this team. Everyone did their part and everyone stuck together and we finished the game out. That was an amazing game.”
Kukuk also rushed for 102 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns. He completed 39 of 61 passes with six touchdowns to go with the ninth-most passing yards in state history.
Kukuk had three receivers with more than 100 yards receiving, led by Benedix with 16 receptions for 259 yards and two scores.
Owen Taylor caught 11 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown, and Mark Hopkins caught nine passes for 129 yards and three touchdowns for the Cougars.
“We’ll definitely think about this game for years to come,” Benedix said. “All the seniors will remember this. This was Senior Night for us. This is a game everyone is going to remember.”
Trabuco Hills (7-2, 1-1) and Capistrano Valley (5-4, 1-1) are tied for second place in the league standings. El Toro is in first with a 2-0 record. The league finishes up next week with Trabuco Hills at El Toro and Capistrano Valley at Aliso Niguel (0-2 in league) on Friday, Oct. 29.
The league’s top two finishers automatically qualify for the CIF-SS playoffs.
Trabuco Hills held a 35-24 lead at halftime Friday and had a 35-31 lead at the end of the third quarter.
After Capo Valley took the lead in the fourth quarter, the Mustangs took back the lead, and then went on for the rest of the quarter. There was a staggering seven lead changes in the quarter.
“I’m just so proud of this team,” Capo Valley coach Sean Curtis said. “We’ve stuck together through adversity this whole year, with the teams we have played this year that gave us their best shot week in and week out. Last week we felt like we didn’t play well enough to beat El Toro. We were waiting to play our best game. Obviously, we still have some things to fix on defense, but Trey is a special player.”