With time running out and a national ranking on the line, tailback Johann Fuller helped Loyola High School avoid a big upset Friday night at La Habra.
Fuller, a 160-pound junior, plunged one yard for a touchdown with 13 seconds remaining to give the Cubs a 10-6 victory over La Habra in front of 2,000 fans.
Fuller's fourth-down play was Loyola's only touchdown in a tight, defensive game and gave the Cubs their first lead since the opening quarter.
La Habra, which has won four straight Freeway League titles, played Loyola evenly despite the fact the Highlanders play in the Central Conference, which is generally considered two divisions lower than the Cubs' Big Five Conference.
Loyola came into the game ranked 17th in the nation by USA Today but was playing mostly without two key players--quarterback Jason Evans and fullback Kevin Egan--who were recovering from injuries. Evans came into the game late in the first quarter but was hardly a factor, completing only 7 of 16 passes for 76 yards.
Egan carried the ball for the first time in the second half and added only 31 yards in 6 carries. Fuller was the Cubs' only consistent offensive threat, gaining 75 yards in 16 carries.
"We're a very average offensive team right now and our offense has to get better if we're going to be a good team," said Steve Grady, Loyola coach. "I thought our defense was exceptional. We held them three times without scoring a touchdown deep in our territory after turning the ball over to them."
Nelson Bergamo provided the only offense for La Habra, kicking 40- and 39-yard field goals in the second quarter. He also had a 20-yard attempt blocked by Michael Gilholly in the second quarter, and his 40-yard attempt just before halftime was wide to the left.
Jamie Hutcherson, a junior linebacker for La Habra, had an exceptional game, recovering two fumbles and intercepting a pass. Both of Hutcherson's fumble recoveries came in the second quarter, but both times La Habra was unable to capitalize as Bergamo was unsuccessful on field goal attempts.
"We were that close to a sweet upset," said Bob Rau, La Habra coach. "We played a great game. That was as good an effort as I've gotten from a team in my eight years at La Habra.
"I'm very, very proud of the entire team. No one gave us much of a chance to win, but the entire team rose to the occasion."
La Habra was on course for a big upset before Loyola lineman Paul Sellers recovered La Habra quarterback Matt Shackelford's fumble at the Highlander 33-yard line with 3:22 remaining in the fourth quarter.
It took eight plays and nearly all the time remaining for the Cubs to reach the end zone. Fuller came within inches of scoring on third down, and then Grady elected to go for the win on fourth down with Fuller finally scoring.
"We were so close on third down, I had no doubts we could score," Grady said. "I'm real happy to get out of here with a win. We sure tried to lose it."
Lynwood 21, St. John Bosco 8--Roy Turner ran for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns in 23 carries to lead the Knights over the Braves in a nonleague game at Lynwood. Quarterback Charles Levy scored on a one-yard run on the Knights' opening drive to give Lynwood a 7-0 lead, which held up until the second half.
In the third quarter, Bosco quarterback Bob Jakubik ran five yards for a touchdown on fourth and goal and then threw for the two-point conversion to give Bosco an 8-7 lead. Lynwood took the ensuing kickoff and went 74 yards to retake the lead, a 12-yard touchdown run by Turner making it 14-8. Lynwood clinched the win with 23 seconds left on a 6-yard run by Turner after a 60-yard drive. Jim Niccoli led St. John Bosco with 13 carries for 93 yards. St. John Bosco managed only 175 total yards. Bosco completed only 6 of 20 passes for 60 yards. Lynwood rolled up 269 yards in 50 rushing attempts.
Hawthorne 28, Morningside 17--Tailback Ron Taylor rushed for 197 yards in 20 carries and scored on a 73-yard run, and junior quarterback Curtis Conway scored on runs of 1 and 25 yards to lead the Cougars to a nonleague victory against the visiting Monarchs. It was Taylor's second straight 100-yard game as Hawthorne improved its record to 2-0. Morningside is 0-1.
Oxnard 17, Long Beach Poly 7--Oxnard took an early 3-0 lead on a 30-yard field goal before the Jackrabbits took their only lead on a one-yard plunge by Rufus Young in the second quarter. Oxnard regained the lead in the third quarter on a one-yard keeper by sophomore quarterback Johnel Turner. Oxnard's final touchdown came on an 18-yard interception return in the final quarter with four minutes remaining. Turner also kicked the field goal and both extra points. Oxnard raised its record to 2-0. LB Poly is 0-1.
Beverly Hills 28, Harvard 6--Running back Willie Crawford caught a 4-yard touchdown pass and scored on runs of 6 and 7 yards in the nonleague game at Beverly Hills. Harvard's only score came on an eight-yard run in the fourth quarter by tailback Martin Holly.