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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Unlikely Spark Leads Cal Lutheran by San Diego

September 27, 1998|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

THOUSAND OAKS — Civility lives at Cal Lutheran, where Saturday the home crowd was asked by the public address announcer to "Please rise and give a warm welcome to our opponents, the University of San Diego Toreros."

Scott Squires coaches the Kingsmen with a measure of etiquette as well. A starter doesn't lose his job unless he really deserves it.

For example, not until Ryan Geisler missed eight consecutive field-goal attempts the last three weeks was he finally replaced by Mark Kevern.

But although Kevern made his only field-goal try and all three extra points in Cal Lutheran's 26-13 nonconference victory over San Diego, Squires said Geisler in time will get another shot.

No wonder everyone in the huddle was shocked late in the first quarter of a scoreless tie when sophomore Nick Odenath took over at quarterback for Zack Hernandez, the senior incumbent who'd begun sluggishly.

Odenath provided a spark, rushing for 30 yards and completing his only pass on a 59-yard drive capped by his nine-yard scoring run. Hernandez returned later in the half, but Odenath came on for two more series in the second half. He rushed for 48 yards in 11 carries and completed six of eight passes for 51 yards.

"Nick is quick and fearless running our speed option," tailback Dorian Stitt said. "That's the first time he's played, but he took command of the huddle and gave us momentum."

Squires, ever the diplomat, made it clear the starter will remain Hernandez, who completed six of 13 for 72 yards, including a 38-yard connection with Josh Salic on a fade route with five minutes play to set up Kevern's 35-yard field goal that extended the Cal Lutheran lead to 19-13.

"There is no controversy whatsoever," Squires said. "Nick did a great job, but Zack is our quarterback."

Tailbacks Stitt and Fredrik Nanhed proved that sharing is effective. Stitt, a sophomore from Royal High, had 70 yards in 18 carries and Nanhed, a senior from Sweden who missed last season with an injury, had 99 in 16 carries.

Stitt had the most impressive--and important--run, a 21-yard touchdown five minutes into the second half that turned the momentum after San Diego (1-3) scored with 33 seconds left in the first half and cut Cal Lutheran's lead to 9-7.

Stitt took a pitch to the short side of the field and shook off tacklers three times before cutting into the end zone to give the Kingsmen (2-2) a 16-7 lead.

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