The Dominguez High School football team must have felt pretty confident Saturday on the trip from Compton to Santa Ana Stadium for its game with Saddleback High School.
After all, the team was coming off back-to-back 47-0 victories over both Centennial and Compton.
But Saddleback wasn't intimidated. Before a home crowd of 1,500, the Roadrunners won the defensive battle, 10-0, Saturday, improving its nonleague record to 2-1. Dominguez drops to 2-1.
The defensive tone of the game was established during each of the teams' first possessions. On the first play from scrimmage, Dominguez sacked Saddleback's quarterback Sean Therien for a 23-yard loss. Saddleback gained zero yards on its next two plays and punted the ball to the Dons, who lost three yards during their first series of the game.
Turnovers led to both Saddleback's scores and stopped Dominguez's most significant threats.
Midway through the first quarter, Donald Long of Dominguez mishandled Roadrunner Carlos Zavalla's punt and Frank Larriva recovered for Saddleback on the Dons' 19-yard line. Though the Dons kept the Roadrunners from gaining any yards on the possession, Avala's 36-yard field goal was good.
The score stayed 3-0 through the first half, though Dominguez twice mounted significant drives, once after recovering a turnover when Saddleback bungled its own punt return. But Saddleback's defense, led by linebackers Joe Hester and Ronnie Ramirez, who rushed Dons' quarterback Trendall Williams all night, prevented Dominguez from getting near the end zone.
The Dons' last possession of the half ended when Williams was sacked and lost the ball. Saddleback recovered and mounted its only impressive drive of the game, marching 62 yards to the Dons' two-yard line before Therien's own fumble ended the threat while time in the half expired.
The game's sole touchdown came midway through the third quarter after Therien intercepted a Williams' pass. With the ball on the Dominguez 37-yard line, Therien switched from defensive back to quarterback and directed the team down to the 10-yard line where he made only his second completion of the game, a 10-yard pass to Neal Carter in the end zone.
The rest of the game was just one defense trying to outdo the other. Each team gained just 100 total yards.
Therien was sacked three times for minus 47 yards, but his night was relaxing compared with that of Williams who was dropped seven times for a total loss of 53 yards.
Therien tried to get his offense to come alive in the fourth quarter, but his nine straight incompletions ended with a Larriva interception with 1:19 left in the game that sealed Saddleback's victory.