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La Habra Holds Off University, 13-7

Victory in Division IX second-round game is Highlanders' 11th straight and puts them in semifinals for first time since 1985.


It just keeps getting better for the La Habra football team. On Friday night, the Highlanders won their 11th consecutive game by defeating University, 13-7, in the second round of the Division IX playoffs at La Habra.

The two-time defending Freeway League champions reached the Southern Section semifinals for the first time since 1985 and will play the winner of today's Western-Covina game. Western defeated La Habra, 27-7, in a first-round playoff game last season.

"We have played good defense all year," said La Habra Coach Frank Mazzotta. "That was our strong point again tonight; that's been our strong point."

After three unsuccessful first-quarter possessions, the Highlanders (11-1) broke a scoreless tie with a 10-play, 82-yard scoring drive. Facing third-and-seven at the University 41, Highlander quarterback Mike Keeling completed passes of 14 and 16 yards to senior wide receiver Pascual Alvarez that set up Brent West's 11-yard touchdown run.

On the drive, Jonathan Tapia was injured on a 14-yard reception and was sidelined until the fourth-quarter--when he returned to catch a 15-yard touchdown pass that gave La Habra some breathing room, 13-0.

That four-play scoring drive followed an important defensive series for the Highlanders, who sacked quarterback Jay Nichols on three straight plays. After Zach Sherwood's punt, La Habra took over on the University 44.

The Pacific Coast League champion Trojans (9-3) showed life on their next possession, driving 78 yards in 10 plays to cut the deficit to 13-7 on Nichols' fourth-down, 14-yard touchdown pass to Scott Pickett.

West carried 24 times for a game-high 148 yards and one touchdown. Keeling completed nine of 18 pass attempts for 104 yards. Alvarez caught four passes for 50 yards and Tapia caught three for 46.

University managed just 14 yards rushing, leaving Nichols to throw 23 times, completing 14 for 104 yards. Pickett had six receptions for 32 yards and Setiam Allah caught five for 22.

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