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Thousand Oaks Defeats Hart on Last Play, 36-35

McEwan's touchdown wins game after Carroll mistakenly gives Lancers ball on two-yard line.

September 21, 1996|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA CLARITA — For once, when a coach gave his counterpart a postgame handshake and said, "Thanks, guys!," he meant it from the bottom of his pounding heart.

The smiling coach was Mike Kelly of Thousand Oaks. The cringing coach was Mike Herrington of Hart, whose instructions on the game's final play from scrimmage to quarterback Travis Carroll enabled Thousand Oaks to snatch a 36-35 nonleague victory Friday night at College of the Canyons.

The Lancers backed into the victory when Carroll backpedaled from the Hart 23-yard line into the Indians' end zone, trying to run out the final 12 seconds on a fourth-down play.

The play was designed for Carroll to take a safety, giving Hart a 35-31 victory. But the senior, making only his second varsity start, dashed out of the end zone and was tackled on the two-yard line with two seconds to play.

The Thousand Oaks offense hurried onto the field and quarterback Scott McEwan rolled out and sped into the end zone to tie the score. The Lancers were assessed a 15-yard penalty for celebrating, but Steve Maccarone booted a line drive through the uprights from 35 yards for the winning extra point.

The score capped a 28-point fourth quarter by Thousand Oaks, which trailed, 35-14, with eight minutes to play.

"Travis got confused because we told him to run around in the end zone, and he ran out," Herrington said. "It's a shame we had to lose."

The ending spoiled an excellent effort by Carroll, who completed 21 of 27 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for two scores.

Hart appeared to have the game in hand when Carroll sprinted four yards around end for a 35-14 lead, and the Indians recovered an ensuing onside kick. On the next play, however, Bryan Hill sacked Carroll, who fumbled, and linebacker Jud Southwell picked up the ball and ran 39 yards for a touchdown.

"The fumble recovery was the first time I felt we were in the game," Kelly said. "I thought, 'Hmm, we might have a chance."

The Lancers did not score again until McEwan hit Barrett Grindle with a 35-yard bomb with 1:33 left and it looked like Hart could run out the clock because Thousand Oaks had only one timeout left.

Carroll took a knee on three consecutive plays and Hart took two delay-of-game penalties, pushing the ball back to the 23 with 12 seconds to play and setting up the fateful call.

"We've worked on that play more than once in practice, but . . ." Mike Herrington said, shaking his head.

McEwan struggled early but finished 14 of 24 for 189 yards.

Hart's Cody Joyce had nine receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 64 yards in seven carries.

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