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Valley / Ventura County Sports

Alemany Awakens

Mission: Indians rally in fourth quarter, overcoming a 21-point deficit to defeat Crespi, 33-28, and close in on league title.

November 07, 1998|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MISSION HILLS — Before the second half began Friday night, Crespi High defensive coordinator Richard Fong had the team trainer check his pulse. What an appropriate decision.

In a wild fourth quarter, Alemany High overcame a 21-point deficit with a furious, frantic four-touchdown rally to knock off the Celts, 33-28, and move within one victory of a Mission League championship.

Devin Montgomery caught a short swing pass from Alemany quarterback Casey Clausen with 1:35 left and raced 52 yards for the game-winning score.

"An old Alemany team would have found a way to lose," Indian Coach Jim Bonds said.

Down, 28-7, entering the final quarter, Alemany (6-3, 2-0 in league play) closed to 28-27 with 6:30 left with an eight-yard touchdown run by De'Andre Scott. A bad snap left the Indians short by one point.

They might have gone down to defeat except Alemany's Ricardo Garcia stopped quarterback Robert Muller of Crespi on a fourth-down sneak with 1:50 remaining on the Alemany 48.

Then Clausen connected with Montgomery, and Crespi (5-4, 0-2) suffered its fourth consecutive defeat.

This game was all about the weather. A strong, swirling wind wreaked havoc on the Alemany offense. When Clausen was passing against the wind during the second and third quarters, he was three of 12 for 56 yards, including nine consecutive failures. With the wind, he was 11 of 18 for 234 yards. He finished with 290 yards.

"I was trying to get the ball downfield," Clausen said. "The ball got hung up in the wind."

It was a crushing defeat for a Crespi team that had rallied last season down, 21-0, against Alemany to win. Blake Tibbetts rushed for 107 yards in 24 carries for the Celts. Linebackers Patrick Sharp and Joel Garcia each played well.

But Alemany is on the verge of its first playoff berth this decade because of a total attitude change under Bonds. After the team went 2-8 last year in Bonds' rookie season, the Indians' days of mediocrity appear over.

"I feel happy," Alemany's Garcia said. "I never thought this was possible."

The first half was a nightmare for Alemany, which fell behind early and was helpless trying to move the ball in the second quarter while going against a stiff wind.

Crespi's Brian Obringer provided an early indication that Clausen might be in for a rough night when he returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown with 4:04 left in the first quarter.

Garcia of Crespi helped limit the Indians' dangerous offensive attack to 80 yards in the first half. Garcia sacked Clausen for a 10-yard loss and dropped Deon Scott for a three-yard loss.

Tibbetts ran the ball as if it were a must-win game. On a 56-yard run in the first quarter, he plowed over one of his own lineman, then knocked off an Alemany defender before being dragged down from behind on a touchdown-saving tackle from Derek Goodman.

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