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PREP EXTRA: ORANGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Sophomore Quarterback Keys El Dorado's Victory

November 16, 1996|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Quarterback Mitchell Nord had just rallied El Dorado to an exciting 31-29 victory over Kennedy Friday night at Western High, but he stood on the field at a loss for words as noisy family members pounded on his shoulder pads.

Not known for his arm, the sophomore completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Carlos Rasch with 26 seconds left to lift the Golden Hawks to the outright title in the Empire League, one game ahead of Loara.

El Dorado led by 17 points in the third quarter, but when Kennedy rallied to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, the entire game came down on the young quarterback's shoulders.

"I got some great blocking and the receivers just caught the ball," Nord said. "We just hung in there."

Actually it was more exciting. After stumbling through a second half that saw the Golden Hawks' potent running attack wilt and Nord fail to complete five passes to open receivers, it took a great pass from Nord to Rasch to win it.

And a great, gutsy pass it was, just inside the end zone with Kennedy defenders swarming for the interception and a clear sideline ahead of them.

"I'm real proud of our guys, we never gave up on ourselves," El Dorado Coach Rick Jones said. El Dorado began the year with five consecutive losses.

It was a heart-breaking turn of events for Kennedy, which finished the season with three consecutive losses and saw its playoff hopes dwindle for the Division V wild-card spot.

But Kennedy senior quarterback Tom Haas was virtually unstoppable most of the night, passing for 331 yards and one touchdown, while rushing out of the shotgun formation for 105 yards and three touchdowns.

About the only thing Haas couldn't do was bring his team back a second time. Kennedy had rallied with a no-huddle offense to erase a 24-7, third-quarter deficit, to take a 29-24 lead with 1 minute 14 seconds left on a 60-yard pass from Haas to fullback Jack Tucker.

With the ball back in his hands and less than a minute to play, Haas, who had a hand in 50 of Kennedy's 55 offensive plays, drove the Irish to the Golden Hawk 37-yard line, where his desperation pass into the end zone was batted down by three El Dorado players.

"We just went flat in that second half," said Golden Hawk running back Steven Warfield, who gained 119 yards in 24 carries, said. He had 81 yards at the half.

An indignant Kennedy Coach Mitch Olson first refused to talk to reporters, but when asked to gauge the success of the no-huddle drill, but then said: "It was very effective, obviously."

Warfield and Rasch scored two touchdowns each and Nord finished with 153 yards passing.

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