Canyon High School of Canyon Country finally lost a football game Friday night.
And it wasn't the winds of Lancaster that blew the Cowboys away. It was the Antelopes of Antelope Valley who deserve all the credit for stopping the nation's longest winning streak at 46 games, and in heart-stopping fashion at that.
Canyon's three-year run, and the chance to tie the state record for consecutive victories, died in the arms of Antelope Valley defensive lineman Harold Morrow, who wrapped up Cowboy quarterback Ken Sollom just short of the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt with 16 seconds left to preserve a 21-20 Antelope victory.
"I thought we could catch them," Cowboy Coach Harry Welch said after the game, which was played in 45-degree weather and a 35-m.p.h. wind. "I thought we would get those extra points."
But if it was the defensive line that secured the win for Antelope Valley, it was the great play by the Antelopes' offensive line and running back Eric Mortensen that put them in that position in the first place.
With Mortensen, who came into the game with 1,058 yards and 19 touchdowns, running for 252 yards and a touchdown in 39 carries, Antelope Valley jumped out to a 21-0 lead by the end of the third quarter. Canyon was down and, seemingly, out.
But the Cowboys, The Times' third-ranked team in the Southern Section, mounted its comeback in the last 7:45 and threatened to grab victory from almost certain defeat. Lance Cross' eight-yard run and Tom Gahry's extra-point with 1:20 remaining brought them within 21-14.
Canyon got the ball back, and Sollom, the Southern Section's leading passer, then threw a sideline pass to Chad Zeigler (the two had hooked up for a 17-yard score to make it 21-7) to move the ball to the Antelope Valley 13. On the next play, Sollom hit Ernie Figueroa over the middle for a touchdown, making it 21-20.
The Cowboys shunned the tie and looked for the win all the way. On the conversion try, Welch expected Sollom to pitch the ball. Antelope Coach Brent Newcomb was surprised, too. The reaction by Morrow and James Richards, who combined to make the stop on Sollom, proved that they weren't.
The loss left Canyon tied with Temple City for the Southern Section record of 46 straight wins. Temple City set the record in 1969-73. The state record is 47 by Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman in 1972-77.
Canyon is 8-1 for the season, while Antelope Valley is 7-1-1.