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De La Salle on top after a rally thriller

December 16, 2007|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

The last 12 months have been anything but ordinary for the Concord De La Salle and Corona Centennial football teams.

That year came to an end with an extraordinary game Saturday, De La Salle taking a 37-31 victory in the Division I bowl championship at the Home Depot Center.

The Spartans, once holders of a nation-leading 151-game winning streak, had been looking to redeem themselves after their heartbreaking loss last December to Canyon Country Canyon in the Division I championship.

Centennial has been feverishly trying to join De La Salle as one of the state's top-notch programs, but at the same time has been dealing with the death five months ago of Donna Logan, the 41-year-old wife of Centennial Coach Matt Logan, who succumbed to cancer after a four-year battle.

Those emotions collided Saturday night, and the result was a game that packed all the excitement and drama that was predicted when the matchup was announced seven days ago.

Noah Perio caught a 25-yard touchdown pass with 5 minutes 9 seconds remaining to give the Spartans their final lead, and defensive back Blair Wishom made a key fourth-down tackle and intercepted a pass in the final four minutes, preserving the victory.

The Huskies (13-2) made it a game by scoring 24 consecutive points in the second half to tie the score, 31-31, with 8:17 remaining. Their big break came with the Spartans leading, 31-15, late in the third quarter.

Michael Czyz, punting for De La Salle inside its own 10, kicked the ball into up-back Jeff Stroud and the ball caromed into the end zone, where it was recovered by De La Salle for a safety, cutting the deficit to 31-17.

Centennial then started the ensuing drive at midfield, picked up a first down on fourth and five on a 10-yard reverse by Marsel Posey and then scored on a 34-yard pass from Matt Scott to Ricky Marvray, who broke a tackle at the 10 and scored to cut the deficit to 31-24 with 14.9 seconds left in the third quarter.

Unlike the second half, De La Salle (13-0) played a penalty-free, turnover-free first half. Meanwhile, Centennial committed two costly turnovers in the opening half, putting the Huskies in their biggest hole this season, 24-7.

"We had some big mistakes early," Logan said.

The Huskies moved the ball with ease on their opening drive, but a pass to the outside from quarterback Scott was tipped and then intercepted by Travis Carrie, who returned it 47 yards to the Centennial 13-yard line. Four plays later, quarterback Blake Wayne scored on a one-yard sneak for a 7-0 lead eight minutes into the game.

Centennial strung together another nice drive, moving the ball 80 yards in 13 plays and scoring on a one-yard run by Ryan Bass to tie the score, 7-7.

The Huskies were five for five on third-down conversions on their first two drives, but De La Salle was also efficient on third downs, converting two on its r second drive and taking a 10-7 lead on a 25-yard field goal by Garrett Beil in the opening minute of the second quarter. Perio's 34-yard run on a reverse set up the field goal.

"I felt like we had great momentum in the second half, but unfortunately, it didn't go our way," Centennial quarterback Scott said. "They're a really good team and I don't want to take anything away from them, but we could have beat them."

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dan.arritt@latimes.com

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