YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Payne's Catch Keys Cougars Past Edison : Late rally: His 25-yard reception on fourth down sets up winning touchdown as Capistrano Valley wins, 17-13.


MISSION VIEJO — It was right before Capistrano Valley's Gabe Payne made one of the greatest catches of his young life that he heard his quarterback make a promise to the offensive line in the huddle.

"He said in the huddle, 'O-line, if you give me protection, I promise you we will score,' " Payne said.

So what was Payne supposed to do? A minute later, there he was, streaking down the right sideline, 25 yards from the line of scrimmage, fourth down burned into his brain and the football floating through the air.

He slowed, twirled around--back to the end zone--and hauled it in, feet scraping the grass just before he went out of bounds to set up the winning touchdown in Capistrano Valley's 17-13 victory over Edison.

Payne made the catch at the Edison 14 and, one play later, with 52 seconds remaining, Cougar quarterback Sam Gaines found Dan Geiss open over the middle for the winning touchdown.

But afterward, all anyone was talking about was Payne's catch on fourth-and-nine, over the wrong shoulder, with defeat grabbing the Cougars by the neck and starting to squeeze.

"That was the game saver, right there," Gaines said.

Said Payne, a senior: "I just knew I had to make it. I knew I had to get one foot in bounds. If we scored, we won."

The Cougars (2-1) had one foot in their coaches' doghouse all evening long and owe their defense some kind words for covering up the problems. Although Gaines completed 14 of 24 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns, Payne caught six passes for 104 yards and teammate Sepeher Fallah grabbed four more for 74 yards, Capistrano Valley needed every last scrap.

The Cougars, intent on giving Edison (2-1) every opportunity, lost three fumbles and had a punt blocked. One fumble led to an Edison touchdown--a 25-yard pass from Pat Markovsky to Timon Jeske to give the Chargers a 13-10 fourth-quarter lead. But Edison missed field goals--from 40 and 37 yards--after one of the lost fumbles and after the blocked punt.

The Cougars, in fact, ran only four plays from scrimmage in the first quarter because of the mistakes. Edison was forced to punt on its opening drive, P.J. Deschamps fumbled it away and the Chargers recovered.

Then, on Capistrano Valley's next possession, Dan Lauder lost another fumble on the second play. But a few minutes later, the Cougar defense stuffed Edison four times from inside the Capistrano Valley two--the last time when, with the line of scrimmage about three inches from the goal line, Grant Hibbs dropped Chris Young at the three.

"I thought it was one of the greatest things I've seen in a long time," Gaines said.

Edison's Markovsky didn't have a bad night himself, completing 13 of 16 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. However, his desperation pass was intercepted near midfield by Bron Witten with 22 seconds to play, icing the victory for Capistrano Valley.

Los Angeles Times Articles