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November 17, 1994|KIRBY LEE

LAST-MINUTE HEROICS

Although La Mirada won the Suburban League title and finished the regular season undefeated to earned the top-seeding in the Southern Section Division VIII playoffs, it didn't come without a fight from Artesia.

The Matadores needed a seven-yard reception by Wyatt Boatright with 31 seconds left to escape with a 37-35 victory Friday night at home.

La Mirada, which will play host to University High of Irvine (4-5-1) in a first-round playoff game Friday night, improved to 10-0 and 5-0 in league play to go undefeated in the regular season for the first time in 10 years.

The Matadores have outscored their four previous league opponents 158-9 and has allowed just one one touchdown before playing Artesia (7-3, 4-1).

"This was easily the hardest game of the season," said Boatright, who had seven receptions for 80 yards and two touchdowns. "I thought we might win six or seven games at the beginning of the season, but to be 10-0 is unbelievable."

Two plays before Boatright's winning touchdown, quarterback Mike Palumbo connected with Greg Rudiger for a 31-yard completion on fourth down and 16 to keep the drive alive.

"We were just hoping to get the touchdown," Palumbo said. "Luckily, they were playing prevent defense and it backfired and we got the first down we needed."

Palumbo passed for 194 yards and four touchdowns, including two scoring passes to running back Hugo Corral, who rushed for 118 yards.

The Matadore victory spoiled a four-touchdown performance by Demond Winston, who rushed for 313 yards in only 12 carries.

Artesia trailed, 21-7, in the second quarter, but scored three second-half touchdowns to take a 35-31 lead on an 85-yard kickoff return by Frank Vann with just over six minutes to play.

SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS

Montebello Coach Doug Rihn earned his 100th career coaching victory two weeks earlier. Victory No. 102 on Friday night was much more satisfying for the 14-year coach.

The Oilers defeated Alhambra, 42-0, and won the Almont League title.

With the road victory, Montebello improved to 9-1 and 5-0 to win its second consecutive league title against Alhambra (9-1, 4-1), the Southern Section's second-ranked team.

"I thought we were two evenly match teams, but I thought Alhambra had the edge because they were playing at home," said Rihn, who has a 102-44-1 record and led Montebello to five league titles. "Our field was like a little mud pool because of rain. When we got to Alhambra, the field was nice and we felt really good about playing away."

Montebello raced to a 35-0 halftime lead and set a school-record with nine sacks en route to its eighth victory in a row. Guillermo Calderon had three sacks and Richard Enriquez, Laird Zwezig and Joe Rouse had two each.

Montebello, which will play host to Ventura (5-5), the third-place team from the Channel League, in a Division III first-round playoff game Friday, rolled up 472 yards of offense against the Moors. Running back Ulises Rios gained 148 yards and Adolph Esqueda rushed for 87 yards and three touchdowns.

Quarterback Fred Montiel rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns. He also had nine tackles and an interception on defense.

"We had a great game plan," Rihn said. "We thought we found some things that would work and played exceptionally. It was one of the finest executed halves of football I have been a part of."

WIN, LOSE OR DRAW

Long Beach Jordan (7-3), Long Beach Poly (9-1) and Lakewood (6-4) tied for the Moore League title at 4-1, but Jordan won a draw to go as the league's top-seeded team.

Jordan, which won a share of its third league title in seven seasons, is seeded fourth in the Division I playoffs. The Panthers will play host to Crespi (5-5) in a first-round Friday night.

Here's a look at other first-round games.

Division I: St. John Bosco (5-5) vs. Los Alamitos (10-0) at Gahr High; Eisenhower (5-5) vs. Long Beach Poly (9-1) at Veterans Stadium; Lakewood (6-4) vs. Loyola (7-2) at Pierce College.

Division II: Hawthorne (7-3) at Paramount (8-2); Dominguez (6-3) at Antelope Valley (7-2); Arcadia (8-2) at Downey (7-3).

Division III: Ventura (5-5) at Montebello (9-1).

Division VI: Chaffey (5-5) vs. Santa Fe (7-3) at Pioneer High; La Serna (7-3) at Damien (6-4); Whittier (5-5) at Walnut (8-2); Cerritos (5-5) at Charter Oak (10-0).

Division VIII: University (4-5-1) at La Mirada (10-0); Bellflower (5-5) at San Marino (8-2); Monrovia (6-4) at Artesia (7-3).

Division X: Kern Valley (5-5) at Valley Christian (8-2).

City Section 4-A Division: San Fernando (5-5) at South Gate (9-1).

*

St. Paul (7-3) was among the notable teams that failed to qualify for the playoffs after finishing 2-3 in the rugged Del Rey League.

Bell Gardens (4-6) failed to qualify for postseason play for only the third time in 18 years after forfeiting an Almont League victory to Keppel because of an ineligible player. The Lancers tied with Keppel and Schurr for third place at 2-3, but Keppel advanced to the playoffs by virtue of a coin flip.

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