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Notre Dame Brushes Off Crespi

Football: Knights (7-0) draw inspiration from an unwanted paint job on snack bar the night before and rally for 24-10 victory.


ENCINO — You can sometimes pencil in a Crespi High victory over Notre Dame and, in the mid-1980s, you could even use ink.

Just don't ever use spray paint.

Notre Dame, drawing inspiration from an apparent spray-paint incident on the Notre Dame campus, downed the Celts, 24-10, and won the latest chapter of an intense rivalry Friday night at Crespi.

The Knights (7-0), ranked No. 2 in the region by The Times, scored 21 fourth-quarter points and defeated the Celts (5-2), ranked No. 6, for the fifth season in a row.

Chris Leon emerged from the tailback-by-committee approach by the Knights and rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown in 15 carries.

The Notre Dame snack bar was spray-painted Thursday night with what Coach Kevin Rooney of the Knights called "crude" anti-Notre Dame phrases.

"It kind of got us motivated to come out here and play some football," Leon said.

Crespi athletic officials said a police investigation is pending.

"It's not what we stand for," Athletic Director Richard Fong of Crespi said. "There's no place for it. It's disheartening."

Crespi administrators faxed a letter of apology to Notre Dame earlier in the day, Rooney said.

Because the Celts played home games at Pierce College the last decade, the rivalry hadn't taken place on the Crespi campus since 1987, when the Celts drubbed Notre Dame, 45-3, in Russell White's junior season.

The Celts took a 10-3 lead midway through the third quarter when Blake Tibbetts scored on a six-yard run.

But Notre Dame tied the game with 9:35 left to play when backup quarterback Jonathon Brewster, subbing for an ineffective Seth Oseransky, ran for an eight-yard score.

Using a suddenly invigorated ground game, the Knights scored touchdowns on two of their next three drives, all of which started in Crespi territory.

In the first half, Notre Dame was flagged for six illegal procedure penalties, including three on third down. The Knights also had a punt blocked and had a pass intercepted inside the Crespi 10-yard line.

Yes, the Knights had a lot to fix at halftime.

"I don't know what we were doing at first," Rooney said. "That was the worst half of football we've played all season."

The Celts didn't fare much better in the first half, putting Notre Dame into field goal range 11 seconds before halftime on a roughing-the-passer penalty.

Christian Thomsen willingly obliged, knocking a 32-yarder through the uprights for a 3-3 tie at halftime.

"It's never fun to lose to them," said Tibbetts, who rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown in 16 carries. "It kills you. It takes all the feeling away."

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