SAN JOSE -- Leigh knew it faced a big challenge on its home field Friday night against Independence, and it turned out to be more than the Longhorns could handle.
Jojo Valenzuela and A.J. Anderson were too shifty and too fast.
The Independence duo rushed for 329 yards and four touchdowns to lead the visiting 76ers to a 36-24 season-opening victory.
"We've got a lot of people who can run the ball on this team," said Valenzuela, who finished with 158 yards and three touchdowns. "We're just ready to do better next week."
It was quite a reversal for Leigh, which was coming off a 42-point rout of Andrew Hill in its season opener a week earlier.
But despite that score, Leigh coach Kyle Padia knew his team had to slow down Independence's stable of running backs to keep pace against the upper-division 76ers.
The game plan did not unfold as Padia had hoped as Independence's offense -- which features fast running backs and physical linemen -- overpowered the Longhorns from the opening series.
"We didn't get it done there," Padia said. "Defensively, we didn't make a stop until the fourth quarter, and that never is going to be good enough. We just have to be better on defense."
Valenzuela carried five times on the 76ers' first possession, completing the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. Khari Vanderbilt's two-point conversion run made it 8-0.
Leigh answered behind Lavon Donald, who rushed for 129 in only nine carries
The drive stalled, however, and Leigh settled for a 22-yard field goal that cut its deficit to 8-3.
That was as tight as the score would get.
The rest of the night -- at least while Valenzuela and Co. were on the field -- was highlight reel for the 76ers playmakers.
On one play in the second quarter, Valenzuela emerged from a scrum and shifted into another gear, out-sprinting the defense to the end zone for a 68-yard score that extended Independence's lead to 30-10 at halftime.
"I just saw open field, and I had to take it," said Valenzuela, who credited the line for his big night running the ball. "I ran as fast as I can."
Earlier, with the Leigh trying to stop the run, 76ers quarterback Thouet Tuy dropped back in the pocket and lofted a perfect pass in stride to Vanderbilt. The receiver then raced across the goal line for a 55-yard touchdown.
Not to be outdone, Anderson scored on a 59-yard run on the opening series of the second half to stretch the 76ers' lead to 36-10.
Independence seemed content to use its reserves the rest of the way, but coach Norm Brown started bringing back his starters as Leigh started scoring.
A 20-yard scoring pass from Gabe Davis to Tommy Druhan brought Leigh to within 36-17 early in the fourth quarter. Druhan caught another touchdown pass in the closing minutes.
But in the end, it was Independence that celebrated. The victory marked the first time in Brown's five seasons at the school that the 76ers won their opening game.
"It was just a team effort," Brown said. "The line was really solid up front, both the offensive and defensive lines, but hand it to (Leigh). They kept fighting, kept playing all the way through the game. It was a good high school football game."