Had it been a long-drive contest, Tustin might have left a winner.
But the Tillers could not move the ball quickly enough in the fourth quarter Thursday night against visiting Villa Park and ran out of options at the Spartan 15-yard line with 26 seconds remaining. On a fourth-and-nine play, quarterback Damien Cruz tried only his fourth pass of the game, but Brad Klein batted the ball away in the end zone to preserve a 28-21 victory.
The win clinched a second consecutive Century League title for Villa Park (9-1, 5-0) and its sixth in the last eight seasons.
Tustin (6-4, 4-1) began its final drive at its 20-yard line with 7:27 remaining. The Tillers showed they could drive the ball on their opening possession of the game, using more than nine minutes to move the ball 76 yards in 18 plays to tie the score, 7-7. But with a minimal passing game -- Tustin had completed only 14 passes on the season coming into the game -- it had to methodically move the ball on its last drive.
The Tillers burned 3 1/2 minutes reaching midfield. It took another two minutes for them to reach the Villa Park 21 with 1:07 left. After a three-yard run by Jeff Quinn, an intentional spike by Cruz to stop the clock and a reverse to Mike Neal that lost two yards, the Tillers had one last chance.
Klein, who had intercepted a pass in the end zone late in the second quarter, dropped back with tight end Samuel Stewart and batted the ball away in the back of the end zone with 18 seconds left.
Tustin Coach Myron Miller was unhappy with the effort from his defense, which forced Villa Park to punt only once in five possessions. "We just missed opportunities," he said.
Quinn rushed for 181 yards in 27 carries, including a 66-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter that tied the score, 21-21. Villa Park receiver Viken Bitar then caught a three-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brad Johnson, their second scoring connection of the game, to give the Spartans a 28-21 lead with 7:27 left.
-- Dan Arritt
Daniel Mosier is Simi Valley Royal's new single-season rushing leader. He gained 201 yards last week in a 38-28 Marmonte League loss to Westlake Village Westlake to give him 1,414 on the season, breaking Ron Torgerson's mark of 1,270 in 1984.
With his school-record 325 yards in a 27-19 Citrus Belt League victory over Yucaipa last week, Erin Madden became Fontana Miller's single-season rushing leader with 1,577 yards.
Lake Forest El Toro boys' cross-country runner Brandon Bethke has committed to Wisconsin, which has been ranked as high as No. 1 in the nation for six consecutive weeks.
Bethke, who came within two seconds of breaking the course record in winning the individual sweepstakes race at the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational last month, will begin defense of his Southern Section Division I title Saturday at the preliminaries at Mt. SAC.