After his shiftier teammates picked up big chunk yardage, LJ Laulu was happy to do the dirty work in the red zone.
The 240-pound power back scored three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score from 10-yards out with 1:06 left to play in the third quarter, lifting West (2-3) to a 29-14 win over South Friday night
The Vikings' first score was set up by a big third-and-seven run by Damion Brown, who swept right for 58 yards to the Rebel 11. Three plays later, Laulu barreled in from a yard out for the only score of the first half.
Brown led a balanced running attack, gaining 111 yards on just 11 carries.
After the only Viking pass play of the second half, a Daylon Leach to Khaiden Dearmore 4-yard touchdown connection, gave West a 14-0 lead on the opening drive of the third quarter, South answered with back-to-back scores to pull even.
Darrell Brown gave the Rebels (3-2) their first score with a 26-yard run. Then, after recovering an onside kick, Manuel Guzman stepped up and, while taking a big hit, delivered a 33-yard touchdown pass to Angel Alfered on 4th-and-10.
But following another chunk play, a 29-yard run by Xavier Lopez, Laulu scored for the second time, this on a 10-yarder, to give West the lead for good. After a roughing the kicker flag negated a missed extra point try, Laulu added to his night by running in the two-point conversion.
Laulu had his first blunder on the next drive, fumbling at the South 10. But after his defense forced a turnover on downs, he atoned for the mistake, scoring from 14-yards out to ice the game with 2:20 to play.
Losers of two straight coming in, Vikings coach Derrick Dunham said his team got away from its ground-and-pound roots in previous weeks, and was happy to reestablish them Friday.
“We got back to our identity," Dunham said after his team gained 287 yards on the ground. "That’s our identity is. We kind of got away from it the last couple weeks."
The win also gives West a boost heading into South Yosemite play, which begins with a tough home game against Bakersfield Christian next week.
“It’s definitely a morale booster," said Laulu, who gained 78 of his 89 yards in the second half. "We’ve been down a little bit recently, but...we were just looking forward to playing this game.”
South falls to 3-2 and hosts Foothill in its Southeast Yosemite League opener next Friday.
West 29, South 14
S 0 0 14 0 — 14
W 7 0 15 7 — 29
W - Laulu 1 run (Zuniga kick)
W - Dearmore 4 pass from Leach (Zuniga kick)
S - Brown 26 run (Bravo kick)
S- Alfered 33 pass from Guzman (Bravo kick)
W -Laulu 10 run (Laulu run)
W - Laulu 14 run (Zuniga kick)
RUSHING — S: Lomax 14-94, Ellis 12-49, Brown 1-26, Guzman 4-(negative)8; W: Brown 11-111, Laulu 16-89, Leach 12-49, Jones 1-10, Lopez 4-42, Dearmore 3-8, Team 1-(negative)22
PASSING — S: Guzman 7-20-77-1; Ellis 2-2-13-0; W: Zuiga 1-2-8-0; Leach 1-1-4-0
RECEIVING — S: Amador 2-8, Alfered 3-48, Wilson 1-6, Castro 1-15, Brown 2-13; W: Dearmore 2-12W-L: GV 1-2, S 2-1
RECORDS: W 2-3, S 3-2