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Costa Mesa Escapes By a Leg, 24-22

September 23, 2000|STEVE HISERMAN

Luis Avalos' 22-yard field goal with 11 seconds left gave Costa Mesa a 24-22 victory over upset-minded Westminster in a nonleague game Friday night at Orange Coast College.

Avalos, whose decisive kick was his first game-winner, said he "knew it was going to go through" as soon as he hit it.

OK, so he wasn't surprised. But Costa Mesa (3-0), ranked No. 2 in the Southern Section Division IX, had to be very surprised by a Westminster team that had not scored in its first two games.

"They played us real tough," Costa Mesa Coach Jerry Howell said. "They ran some plays that we didn't expect."

A tight end screen, to be exact.

Westminster (0-2-1) used it to score its first points of the season on a 30-yard pass from Akilah Lacey to Hector Colunga with 9:08 left before halftime. And they used it again--twice--with reserve quarterback Fidel Gonzales throwing the ball for gains totaling 60 yards.

Gonzales completed six of eight passes for 174 yards. His two-point conversion pass to Colunga gave Westminster a 22-21 lead with 4:58 left in the game.

Thanks to a clipping penalty on the kickoff return, Costa Mesa was pushed back to its own eight with 4:49 left.

Keola Asuega, who rushed for 159 yards, carried eight times for 33 yards on the winning drive as Costa Mesa ran right up the middle at a very undersized pair of Westminster tackles. Supplementing Asuega's running, Patrick Hulliger completed two passes for 28 yards and fullback Daniel Hunter broke loose for a 22-yard gain.

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