TUSTIN – Foothill’s band could have been playing Thursday for both teams but especially Canyon during a halftime rendition of “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”
Instead of the fear of death, the song seemed to speak to the Comanches’ perilous playoff standing.
Canyon responded on cue in the second half, rallying behind a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Connor Dunn en route to a 31–28 victory in a Crestview League at Tustin.
Motivated to push its overall record to .500, Canyon (4-5, 1-1) rallied from a 14-10 halftime deficit behind its defense and special teams. Dunn returned the second-half kickoff 90 yards for the go-ahead score. Canyon’s defense did the rest.
On the ensuing possession, a tackle for loss by Cody Briggs on fourth down forced Foothill (5-4, 0-2) to turn the ball over on downs at the Knights’ 36. About a minute later, Canyon’s hard-running Jesse Lobato scored on a 3-yard touchdown run as the Comanches built a 24-10 lead.
Foothill trimmed the lead to 24-21 on a 5-yard TD reception by David Lopez (13 catches, 166 yards) from Bobby Garcia with 5:11 left in the third but Canyon’s defense forced its second turnover.
With the Knights driving at the Canyon 10 late in the third, Comanches defensive tackle Josh Tarango forced a fumble and made the recovery at his 13. The junior capitalized on his takeaway early in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard TD run, his second of the game, as Canyon opened a 31-21 lead.
“Our kids are fighters,” said Canyon coach Mike Ogas, whose team closes next week at Yorba Linda. “Our schedule (that) we play prepares us for games like this.”
“We feel pretty confident going into games like this, hard-fought, close games. … One more, we got to win one more.”
Garcia scored on a 7-yard run with 5:14 left but Canyon’s defense, which helped the Comanches claim the Southern Division title last season, held from there. Defensive back Chris Tsirtsis broke up a fourth-down pass near the Foothill 40 with 30 seconds left.
Canyon cornerback Marcus Gracy had an interception while Hank Richardson added a sack on the final Foothill drive.
Lopez finished with 15 catches for 166 yards, including two TDs.
The Knights’ erased a 10-point deficit after the first quarter to lead, 14-10, at halftime.
Foothill answered a 5-yard TD run by Tarango late in the first quarter with an 80-yard scoring drive capped by a 6-yard TD run by Justin Dupre.
The 12-play march was sparked early by a 12-yard run on a fourth-and-9 by Derek Benjamins.
Foothill’s defense then forced Canyon to punt deep in its territory, setting up the Knights at the Comanches 37. Four plays later on fourth-and-1, Garcia tossed a 28-yard TD pass deep Lopez, who made a juggling grab in the end zone as the Knights took a 14-10 lead.
Tarango’s first touchdown came after an interception by Gracy.
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