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Estancia's Last Gasp a Fumble

Prep football: Santa Ana Valley escapes with 35-28 victory after disputed play at the goal line in the final minutes.


Trailing by seven with about 2 minutes left in Saturday's game, Estancia quarterback Kenny Valbuena scrambled on third and goal for 17 yards. But as he dove toward the goal line the ball was jolted loose.

Everybody seemed to have an opinion on whether he was in the end zone before he fumbled. But the only one that mattered belonged to the officials: Fumble, touchback.

That spelled the end for host Estancia and was the culmination of an extremely frustrating night for Eagle Coach Dave Perkins, who blasted the officiating after a 35-28 loss to Santa Ana Valley.

Santa Ana Valley (2-2) rebounded from a 28-12 third-quarter deficit--and a 212-yard rushing performance by the Eagles' Andy Romo with 23 consecutive points. Romo also had a 92-yard kickoff return.

Valbuena, who had already fumbled into the end zone once Saturday, took to the air at the two-yard line and was decked by several Falcon defenders. Bodies were piled inside the end zone when the officials signaled the touchback. The call sent Perkins into a tirade.

"I think this officiating was the worst I've seen in 25 years of coaching," Perkins said, still fuming after a lengthy private meeting with his 2-2 team. "That crew should be embarrassed. . . . We're taking the fury of this football game into the next six."

Coming off two straight lopsided defeats, the Falcons were going to take it any way they could get it.

"We needed that one, it kind of gets us back on track," said Falcon Coach Eddie Steward, who said there was no question about the fumble call. "Oh, he fumbled the ball. The ball came out when he was airborne."

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