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ORANGE COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL

La Habra Holds On to Beat Fullerton for League Title

November 04, 2000|PETER YOON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Whatever it takes to win. Especially against Fullerton.

Last year, it was a last-second field goal. This year, La Habra defensive back Antonio Sanchez knocked away Fullerton's two-point conversion pass with a minute remaining and the Highlanders held on for a 21-20 Freeway League victory Friday at La Habra High.

Fullerton drove 74 yards in 11 plays and pulled to within a point with 1:01 left when Daniel Fells leaped high in the air for a two-handed grab over La Habra defender Pascual Alvarez and barely touched his toe in bounds.

Fullerton coaches decided to go for the victory, which would mean the league title. But with the ball in the bread basket of intended receiver Dustin Sober, Sanchez got in a finger tip and deflected the ball to the ground.

"That was my life right there," La Habra quarterback Mike Keeling said. "We knew this was going to be scary. We knew it was going to come down to the last second."

La Habra (8-1, 4-0 in league) clinches its second consecutive league title. Even with a loss to winless Sunny Hills next week, the Highlanders would win the title based on their victory Friday night. Fullerton (7-2, 3-1) is the only other team in the league with only one loss.

"I would have done the same thing," La Habra Coach Frank Mazzotta said of Fullerton's decision to go for the victory. "With the league title on the line, without a doubt."

Fullerton quickly left the field after the game without comment.

The Indians blew a few chances, turning the ball over twice inside the La Habra 20. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Fullerton receiver Abel Hernandez caught a pass at the La Habra 15, then fumbled trying to gain extra yardage. La Habra recovered to maintain its 21-14 lead.

Late in the third quarter, Fullerton drove to the La Habra 12 but Ryan Murray, who ran 59 yards on the opening play of the second half to tie the score at 14-14, fumbled at the La Habra 12 late in the third quarter with Fullerton trailing, 21-14.

Fullerton's defense held running back Brent West to only 61 yards in 25 carries, but Keeling completed 16 of 21 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns.

"We like to pass," Mazzotta said. "When you are in a championship game, you have to use all of your bullets and Mike is definitely one of our bullets."

Fells, who caught the last-minute touchdown, had eight receptions for 92 yards. Murray, hobbled by a sore ankle, rushed 12 times for 104 yards.

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