Josh Tarango rushed for two touchdowns and recovered a critical fumble to lead Canyon of Anaheim to a 31-28 victory over Foothill of Santa Ana on Thursday night at Tustin High.
The Comanches got off to a quick start with a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Foothill came back to take a 14-10 lead at the half. Canyon ended up taking two more 10-point leads, but Foothill didn’t give up. Instead, the Knights, who were missing injured star RB David Lopez, made it a game thanks to a brilliant evening by wide receiver David Lopez.
“No lead is comfortable,” Canyon coach Mike Ogas said. “Until you’re up five touchdowns, no lead is comfortable. Being up 10 or being up a couple scores is not comfortable. We knew they were going to fight back. They’re a good team and they have a good quarterback. I know they were missing one of there best players and we wish that kid to get healthy.”
Canyon, the defending CIF-SS Southern Division champions, will now play for second place in the Crestview League and an automatic berth in the CIF-SS Division 7 playoffs next week against Yorba Linda, ranked No. 18 in So Cal Sidelines OC Top 20. As for Foothill, the Knights need a strong finish to make a case to an at-large berth in the CIF-SS Division 5 playoffs, but an at-large berth could draw them the top teams in the division like Calabasas.
SCORE: Canyon 31, Foothill 28
RECORDS: Canyon (4-5, 1-1), Foothill (5-4, 0-2)
KEY STATS: Tarango scored on two rushing touchdowns, while recovering a fumble he forced in the third quarter. … Marcus Gracey led Canyon in tackles with nine to go with his interception. … Jesse Lobato rushed for 87 yards on 21 carries with a score for Canyon. … Foothill went to WR David Lopez all evening and he finished with 14 passes for 171 yards and two TDs. … QB Bobby Garcia completed 23 of 40 passes for 261 yards for two touchdowns and an interception, while rushing for a TD. … Ryon Padayao ended the night with 10 tackles for the Knights.
PIVOTAL MOMENT: Down 24-21 late in the third quarter, Foothill had the ball on its own 47 with under 4 minutes to go. The Knights drove down the field thanks to Lopez and were in the Red Zone at the Comanches’ 13. A pass interference on Canyon at the 1-yard line was nullified by another penalty by Foothill, which fumbled the ball on the next play. Tarango was there for the recovery for Canyon. A score could have put the Knights up heading into the final quarter.
QUOTABLE I: “It was our offensive line,” Tarango said. “They were creating holes on every single drive. They worked their butts off. Everybody else did their job like the receivers who blocked and gave us the outside.”
QUOTABLE II: “Our defense has been great all year,” Ogas said. “We had a couple lapses. We gave up a deep one in the first half. We told our DB to have a short memory. Chris Tsirtsis had a short memory as he was making some plays down the stretch. Our kids are ready for games like this. Foothill is a great team. We knew they were going to be tough and we knew it was going to come down to the wire. We were just happy we were able to make a couple plays in the end.”
QUOTABLE III: “It was an offensive track meet,” Foothill coach Doug Case said. “We didn’t stop them much and they didn’t stop us much. We got down in the red zone a couple times and didn’t execute. We were going to take the lead late in the third quarter and we get a penalty against us and we fumble on the next play right there on the red zone. That was the difference in the ballgame.”
NOTES: With Swayne out, Foothill went with RB Derek Benjamins, who had 52 yards on 10 carries. Justin Dupre added a rushing touchdown for the Knights. Devon Anderson caught seven passes for 65 yards and Ivan Topete had seven tackles for Foothill, while Blake Toll added a sack. … Canyon had help in the ground game outside of Lobato with Cole Nequette, who rushed for 63 yards on 11 carries. Canyon QB Anthony Marquez completed 10 of 20 passes for 136 yards. Christian Downey had 45 receiving yards and Bryce Bowen added 48 receiving yards of his own for the Comanches. Connor Dunn had three catches for 31 yards, but also added a 90 yard kick return touchdown to start the third quarter for Canyon, giving the Comanches a 17-14 lead. Dunn returned a 90 yard kick return for a touchdown last year against Brea Olinda in the CIF-SS FInals. … Daniel Malinowski had seven tackles and a sack for Canyon, while Dylan Porter added seven tackles of his own. Hank Richardson also had a sack for Canyon. … Foothill will now aim for an at-large berth in the CIF-SS Division 5 playoffs and it will have to make it’s case with a strong showing against Villa Park, ranked No. 10 in OC by SoCal Sidelines, on Friday, Nov. 4 at Fred Kelly Stadium. “We just have to keep improving,” Case said. “We have to get healthy. We get a couple more guys back next week. Our kids played tough tonight. I was very proud of them. They didn’t give up. Canyon went up 10 on us and then we came back, they went up 10 on us again and we came back again and they went 10 on us again and we came back with a chance to win. That’s all I can ask for my guys.” … Canyon will now play for second place in league and an automatic berth in the playoffs next Friday, Nov. 4, at Yorba Linda. “It’s going to take hard work and dedication,” Tarango said. “We have to go big in the weight room. Were going to bust our tails off everyday. We have to work hard to the max of our ability.”
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