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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Cal Lutheran Wins on Marino's Arm

Football: Defensive end blocks field-goal attempt with two seconds left to preserve 24-21 victory over Menlo.

September 06, 1998|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

THOUSAND OAKS — The crowd had plenty of time to chant, "Block that kick," Saturday at Cal Lutheran.

The Kingsmen answered with plenty of bodies, most notably Dan Marino's.

Marino, a 6-foot-3 sophomore defensive end, burst through and swatted down a 24-yard field-goal attempt with two seconds to play to preserve Cal Lutheran's 24-21 victory over Menlo College before 1,405 at Mt. Clef Field.

It was the Kingsmen's first victory in an opener in five years. And it could hardly have been more dramatic.

Menlo, after driving to the Cal Lutheran six-yard line in the final two minutes, seemed assured of at least a game-tying field-goal.

But after three timeouts--two called by the Kingsmen--the tension might have affected kicker Michael Nedney of Menlo.

Although the snap and hold were true, Nedney booted the ball into a wave of charging defenders.

The Kingsmen's purple-clad bench erupted in jubilation.

"I got it right here," Marino said, clutching his forearm. "Possibly, it might have gone through."

Scott Squires, Cal Lutheran's coach, was convinced the delays helped his team's cause.

"Dang right," Squires said. "I think we gave him something to think about. It was significant."

Cal Lutheran trailed, 14-0, and, 21-17, at halftime before senior quarterback Zack Hernandez engineered the only scoring drive of the second half.

Hernandez drove Cal Lutheran 76 yards in 16 plays, a game-winning march that consumed more than eight minutes and culminated with Dorian Stitt's one-yard touchdown run with 2:42 to play.

Hernandez sustained the drive with two third-down passes, the second to Jason Fowle at the 18-yard line with five minutes to play.

But it was Stitt, who rushed for 117 yards in 22 carries, who ignited the offense.

Stitt, who played at Royal High, bulled five yards on fourth-and-inches from the eight. At the goal line, he danced off guard untouched.

"I think we were wearing them down, five yards here, five yards there," Stitt said. "I was sticking my shoulder in there pretty hard. We were really building up a rhythm."

Fredrik Nanhed rushed for 87 yards in 13 carries, most in the first half. Nanhed had a two-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to cut Menlo's lead to 14-7.

"There isn't going to be any one guy on this team," Squires said. "We have two good backs and they can both carry it."

Menlo scored two touchdowns in under two minutes in the first quarter.

Jon DeVille connected with tight end Kevin August for a 21-yard touchdown. On the next series, Jovan Parker intercepted a pass by Hernandez and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown.

Hernandez completed 12 of 22 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. He drove the Kingsmen to a touchdown midway through the second quarter, connecting with Josh Salic for a 14-yard score and a 14-14 tie.

Ryan Geisler kicked a 38-yard field goal that gave Cal Lutheran a 17-14 lead with two minutes to play in the half.

Menlo moved ahead, 21-17, on a 12-yard touchdown on a draw play by Dan Nguyen with 13 seconds left in the half.

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