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Fountain Valley Collects on Debt, Stuns Irvine, 28-21

September 25, 1993|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

IRVINE — Fountain Valley paid back a debt that had been accruing interest for a year.

The Barons, 35-0 losers to Irvine in 1992, provided the second-ranked Vaqueros with their most difficult challenge to date.

And they won.

Fountain Valley's John Harcar scored on a three-yard dive up the middle with 29 seconds left in the game to give the sixth-ranked Barons a shocking 28-21 victory in front of an overflow crowd of 3,700 Friday night in Irvine. It stopped the Vaqueros' winning streak at 14 games.

The memories of a year ago made the Barons (3-0) especially tough.

"We weren't going to be physically dominated again," Fountain Valley Coach George Berg said. "As tired as they were, they weren't."

And the Barons were plenty tired. With six players going playing both ways, Irvine (2-1) wore down Fountain Valley in the second half, overcoming a 21-7 halftime deficit to tie the game at 21 with 7 minutes 4 seconds remaining.

The Vaqueros' tying drive went 86 yards, the bulk of it coming from Tony Mathis, who finished with 195 yards in 36 carries. Travis Kowalewsky took a five-yard pass from Mike Phelps. Momentum was clearly on their side, and four downs later, they had the the ball again at their 44.

Irvine got to the 22, when Tommy Louie attempted a 38-yard field goal with 3:45 to go. It was just wide left.

The Fountain Valley offense, inspired with another opportunity, then reeled off its only drive of the second half that lasted more than four downs. Scott Bertoni completed four of five passes for 76 yards, including a third-and-18 completion for 21 yards and a first down at the 12.

"This says we can play hard in a big game against good people," Berg said. "This was a good challenge and they rose to it."

Bertoni finished 9 of 15 for 173 yards, outdueling the county's leading passer, Mike Phelps, who finished 14 of 25 for 158 yards and an interception with five seconds remaining.

Fountain Valley led at halftime, 21-7. The Barons were emotionally buoyed by a 55-yard scoring pass from Bertoni to Michael Rumford to take the lead, and the Barons rode the crest of adrenaline to another score before the half ended.

The Rumford touchdown had shades of Franco Harris written all over it. Bertoni passed to Jamal Hills. The ball bounced off Hills' shoulder pads and caromed downfield. Rumford, running a sideline pattern, caught up to it before it hit the ground. There was no doubt Rumford would then score.

Bertoni threw a dart to Brandon Leimbach on the two-point conversion, and the ball found its way through two defenders. It gave the Barons a 14-7 lead with 7 minutes 30 seconds left in the half.

The defense held Irvine on four downs, beginning a battle of field position that led to Fountain Valley's third score. After an exchange of possessions--two by Irvine--Fountain Valley got the ball at the Vaquero 39 after Hills' 13-yard punt return.

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