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No. 1 Los Alamitos Hangs On to Beat No. 5 Fountain Valley


Fountain Valley Coach George Berg was beside himself. Counterpart John Barnes of Los Alamitos found it difficult to describe how he felt.

Exhausted, tearful players from both sides were sprawled on the turf at Huntington Beach High after a thriller that came down to the final play.

Just another night in the Sunset League, where games like Friday night's 24-23 victory for Los Alamitos have become the norm.

It took an 18-yard field goal from senior Mike Hill with 52 seconds left, and an interception on the final play of the game by defensive back Brandon Cheri, his second of the night, to keep the top-ranked Griffins (8-0, 3-0), atop the league standings.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday November 5, 1998 Orange County Edition Sports Part D Page 11 Sports Desk 1 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
Prep football--A story Saturday about the Fountain Valley-Los Alamitos football game incorrectly reported the name of a Fountain Valley player who returned a kickoff 51 yards late in the game. It was Anthony Stone.

"These were two great teams," Barnes said. "Fountain Valley played its butt off and my kids came back. That's what champions are made of."

Fifth-ranked Fountain Valley (6-2, 2-1) played well enough to win, but three costly mistakes hurt.

Trailing, 7-0, just before halftime, they marched from their own 34-yard line to the Griffin one-yard line. But with no time outs remaining and the clock down to three seconds before halftime, the Barons were called for illegal procedure and settled for a 26-yard field goal by Aaron Carter.

After coming back with seven minutes 50 seconds left in the game on Carter's 11-yard touchdown reception, a winded Carter missed the point after touchdown kick and the Barons led, 23-21. That miss opened the window for Hill's winning boot after the final Griffin drive stalled on fourth and goal at the Fountain Valley one-yard line.

Then late in the game, the Barons got the ball at the Los Alamitos 44, thanks to a 51-yard kickoff return by Chad Triplett.

On the first play from scrimmage, Baron quarterback Ryan Breska threw over the middle to his favorite receiver, Carter, who hauled the ball in at the 30 and weaved to the Los Alamitos two with 27 seconds left to play.

But the Barons were flagged for an illegal substitution on the play and the ball was brought back to midfield. Breska was sacked for a 10-yard loss, then intercepted by Cheri as time ran out.

"It's a heartbreaker to lose that way," Breska said of the penalty. "Our running backs did a great job tonight and we should have won, but they are a great team and they got the victory."

Berg stood away from everyone near the corner of the end zone after the game as tempers flared between coaching staffs during the midfield handshake.

"We deserved to win," he said. "On the late substitution our player just ran in late. That's high school football. The scoreboard says 24-23 for them, but I thought we won."

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