Some might call Los Alamitos High School's 7-3 nonleague victory over Tustin Thursday night a "defensive struggle."
Others might drop the adjective in their description of what happened in front of 1,500 fans in Veterans Stadium at Long Beach.
This game was simply a struggle.
Tustin lost two fumbles and was intercepted once. The Tillers' last turnover--Tim Hollinger's fumble at the Griffin 22-yard line with 1:32 remaining--ended a drive that might have led to the go-ahead touchdown.
Tustin quarterback George Menges received ample protection all night, but he couldn't seem to hook up with many of his receivers, except during the Tillers' one scoring drive in the fourth quarter. Several of his passes were dropped. Menges finished with 103 yards passing on 7 of 17 attempts.
"We just couldn't do enough things right, and we gave them every opportunity in the world," said Tustin Coach Marijon Ancich, who was trying for his 200th victory as a high school coach. "We can't play like this and expect to survive the rest of the year."
John Barnes, Los Alamitos coach, will take the victory, but it was nothing to get too excited about. The Griffins also turned the ball over twice, on a fumble and an interception, and failed to score with two plays from the one-foot line in the second quarter.
Los Alamitos received a solid performance from quarterback Tom Williamson, who completed 11 of 17 passes for 114 yards and the game's only touchdown, but the Griffin offense was devoid of its running game, which had led Los Alamitos to a 47-0 victory over Los Amigos last week.
Mike Cole, who scored five touchdowns last week, rushed for three yards in four carries. Neil Soreneson managed just 34 yards in 18 carries. Marcus Garcia had 21 yards in 8 carries and Roger Roadstrom had 15 yards in 4 carries.
"We did just enough to win," Barnes said. "We couldn't run the ball a lick, but our quarterback threw some big passes. He made the winning plays."
The game-winner was Williamson's 10-yard touchdown pass to Tom Wynn, who made the catch with Tiller defensive back Len Wong draped over his back with 27 seconds left in the first half.
The completion, Williamson's seventh straight of the first half, concluded a three-play, 30-yard drive, which began with a 19-yard pass to Ken Montgomery.
Still, the Griffins entered the locker room at halftime shaking their heads, wondering why they weren't up by 14 points. After driving from its own 21-yard line to the Tustin 1-foot line in 14 plays, Los Alamitos had third and goal, but the Griffins twice failed to punch the ball into the end zone. Both Roadstrom and Soreneson were stacked up by the Tiller defensive line for no gain.
The Griffin offense took the rest of the night off. All six of Los Alamitos' second-half possessions ended with punts.
Tustin (1-1) finally got its offense going in the fourth quarter when Menges teamed with tight end Dave Patstone for pass plays of 14 and 30 yards, the second of which put the Tillers on the Griffin 13-yard line.
But from there, Chris Gankema gained nothing on a run and then dropped a pass near the 10-yard line on second down. Menges was sacked by Dan Van Winkle on the next play, the Griffins' only sack of the night, and Tim Kotlar came on to kick a 37-yard field goal with 5:47 to play.