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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Palmdale Diggs In to Stop Kennedy in Final Seconds

Football: Falcon defensive end sacks Golden Cougar quarterback to preserve hard-fought 14-7 victory.

September 19, 1998|MICHAEL LAZARUS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GRANADA HILLS — Palmdale High nearly let the lead slip away once. Anthony Diggs made sure the Falcons didn't do it again.

Diggs sacked Kennedy quarterback Ruben Zaragoza on fourth down with the Golden Cougars at the Palmdale 14-yard line and eight seconds to play, preserving the Falcons' 14-7 intersection victory Friday night at Kennedy High.

Neither team scored in the second half, but the Golden Cougars appeared to potentially tie the game late in the third quarter on a 59-yard pass play from Zaragoza to Sanders Trent. But the touchdown was called back when Kennedy was called for a personal foul.

Kennedy never scored on the possession, but it had one final chance after David Burney intercepted a pass by Johnathan Thompson with less than three minutes remaining, giving the Golden Cougars possession at midfield.

Kennedy used a series of short passes by Zaragoza to moved to the Palmdale 19 and called its final time out with 39 seconds left and facing third down and 14.

Zaragoza completed a short pass to James Norris, who stayed inbounds, on third down but couldn't evade Diggs--a junior defensive end--on fourth down.

"We just ran our regular defense, and I had to go rush the quarterback," Diggs said. "Maybe we panicked a little but it worked."

Thompson made his reputation last year as a backup quarterback, often entering a game in the second half to jump-start the Falcon offense with his elusiveness.

Firmly entrenched as the starter, Thompson was most effective early for the Falcons (2-0). He threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Mike McCully in the second quarter and his 26-yard pass to Travis Morse helped set up a 16-yard touchdown run by Diggs.

"I knew they were going to be blitzing," Thompson said. "I just had to try and make something happen."

Thompson finished with 93 rushing yards in 14 carries and Diggs added 70 yards in 14 carries.

The Golden Cougars never controlled Thompson's ability to create, but they did intercept two passes in the second half. Josue Otero caught a pass tipped by Aaron Boggs in the third quarter. Thompson finished three of eight for 78 yards.

"I made two big mistakes," Thompson said.

The Golden Cougars pulled to within seven points late in the first half on a six-yard run by Burney. Although Burney played only sparingly at tailback, he gained a team-high 86 yards in 10 carries.

Zaragoza, making his second start after throwing only one pass last year, completed 18 of 28 passes for 159 yards.

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