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Sylmar Loses Grip Again

Football: For third straight year, Antelope Valley rallies against Spartans but this time comes away with only a 14-14 tie.


SYLMAR — The showdown between Sylmar and Antelope Valley highs turned out to be a no-win situation for both teams.

Their 14-14 tie Friday night at Sylmar left two of the region's proudest programs with 0-1-1 records entering games next week against state powerhouses.

Sylmar, ranked No. 5 in the region by The Times, will face Hart, the state's No. 7 team, Thursday night at College of the Canyons.

Antelope Valley, No. 6 in the region, plays Friday night at Bishop Amat, ranked third in the state.

"It's a rare situation for both schools to be winless at this point," Sylmar Coach Jeff Engilman said. "I don't envy them and I certainly don't envy us."

The Antelopes had an opportunity to win it in the closing seconds, driving to the Spartan 38.

With five seconds left, they passed up what would have been a school-record 56-yard field goal, and Michael Place's pass was intercepted by Corey Neal at the Sylmar 10.

"I could have gone all night," said Antelope defensive end Anthony Lopez, who had three sacks. "I wanted to keep going, to get them."

It was Lopez's sack of Noah Albiston with 43 seconds left that caused a fumble, which was recovered by teammate Michael Graves.

The Antelopes, however, were unable to finish off their third comeback victory in three seasons against the Spartans.

"We were ready for overtime," Antelope Coach Brent Newcomb said. "Probably both of us would have rather played it off."

A few moments passed after Neal's interception before both teams realized there would be no California tiebreaker, a state rule observed only during league and playoffs.

"This is very frustrating," said George Wrighster, Sylmar's 6-foot-4 tight end, who caught five passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.

It was a familar script for Sylmar, which enjoyed a 14-0 lead in the second quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by David Contreras and a 21-yard touchdown pass from Albiston to Wrighster.

Antelope Valley, which overcame early leads to defeat Sylmar, 27-7, in 1997 and, 28-21, in '96, answered with a 15-yard scoring pass from Place to Chasio Gaines in the second quarter and a 66-yard scoring run by Bruce Molock midway through the third quarter.

Contreras rushed for 111 yards in 24 carries for Sylmar.

Molock gained 136 yards in 13 carries and Jermaine Marshall added 81 yards in 14 carries.

The Antelopes, who gained only one yard on the ground last week against Bakersfield, rushed for 241 against Sylmar.

Sylmar avoided falling to 0-2 for the first time since Engilman took over the program in 1987. The Antelopes have not started 0-2 since 1991.

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