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Rancho Alamitos, Costa Mesa Manage a Tie After Sloppy Play


GARDEN GROVE — It was a punt that had disaster written all over it. Charles Chatman tried to catch it at the two-yard line and it went out of his hands. He followed it into the end zone, where he was swarmed by tacklers.

Uh, would-be tacklers.

Chatman escaped the tugs at his jersey and went 79 yards before he was tackled, setting up Costa Mesa's first score. It was the play of the game, because he made it and Rancho Alamitos didn't.

It foreshadowed things to come. More big plays and unpredictability. And a 20-20 tie Friday night at Bolsa Grande.

Costa Mesa led, 20-7, with about three minutes left. On fourth and six at the 22, the Mustangs went for it. Brian Luxembourger's previous field goal and point-after attempts had been blocked. Dewayne Crenshaw gave a second and third effort to get the first down and effectively end the game. He fumbled. Richard Allen picked it up and went 80 yards for the score. Tony Luce kicked the point-after to make the score 20-14 with 2:40 remaining.

The Rancho Alamitos defense held on downs, forcing Costa Mesa to punt. The ball was downed at the 11 with 1:14 to go.

Sophomore John Frank passed eight yards to Allen. Between incomplete passes, Kevin Allen rushed for four yards. Then Frank hit Richard Allen in front of defender Corey Sides, who tried but failed to bat the ball away. Allen went 77 yards for a touchdown to tie the game with 28 seconds left.

On the point-after, there was a bad snap, a bad hold, then a bad kick and finally, a tie.

"The key to the game was we scored only seven points in the second half. I'm not ashamed of the game we played," Costa Mesa Coach Myron Miller said. "We're not going to treat it as a loss."

It was a landmark game for the Mustangs (1-0-1), who won only three games last year. Rancho Alamitos (1-0-1) reached the Division VII championship last year and had six returning starters.

"I thought this was a turning point game in Costa Mesa football," Miller said. "We've beaten the Laguna Beaches and Calvary Chapels and Ocean Views. I told the guys we've got to beat a legitimate contender."

They came perilously close, and Rancho Alamitos Doug Case felt lucky, yet frustrated. His team easily could have won.

"To salvage something like this," he said, "we were lucky."

Chatman's big punt return set up a six-yard scoring pass to Corey Sides, and Chatman extended the lead to 14 with a four-yard run with 2:41 left in the first half.

Kevin Allen's 51-yard run on the second play of the third quarter set up his one-yard score to cut the lead to 14-7 before Costa Mesa's Crenshaw scored on a 23-yard run to set the stage for Richard Allen's late heroics.

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