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Canyon football falls flat in playoff opener

West Torrance defeats Canyon 35-27

Posted: November 15, 2013 11:17 p.m.
Updated: November 15, 2013 11:17 p.m.

Canyon running back Myron McAfee (23) runs through a pile of West Torrance defenders at Canyon High School on Friday night.

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With its quarterback on the sideline with an injury, the Canyon Cowboys sat first-and-goal from the West Torrance Warriors’ 7-yard-line late in Friday night’s CIF-Southern Section Northern Division first-round playoff clash at Canyon High School.

Four plays later, Canyon turned the ball over on downs at its own 28-yard line.

It was just that kind of night in Canyon’s 35-27 loss.

Trailing 35-20 with under nine minutes remaining in the game, Colorado-bound senior quarterback Cade Apsay was hit hard in the backfield and laid prone on the field before walking off under his own power.

Apsay would return on the Cowboys’ next possession to seize momentum on a 55-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Zach Cuha to cut the Warriors’ lead to 35-27 with 8:19 remaining.

It would be Apsay’s last throw of his high school career.

“We’re a family,” Cuha said. “We lose a member, we’re going to go down a little. I’m glad we didn’t die. We kept fighting. We did well — not good enough, though.”

Backup senior quarterback Beau McMartin nearly completed the comeback in Apsay’s stead, tossing a 30-yard pass to Liam Cabrera with under two minutes left to give Canyon (8-3) a first down at the West 14-yard line.

Two plays later, McMartin sent a pass to the corner of the end zone where West was called for a pass interference to move the ball down to the 7.

“It’s tough, Cade’s our leader ... But Beau came in and did a good job and made some plays,” said Canyon head coach Rich Gutierrez.

But two runs by Myron McAfee were stuffed for no gain, and after an incomplete pass, McMartin was sacked and fumbled back at the 28-yard line to end the Cowboys’ chances.

West (9-2), the third-place team out of the Bay League, came out of the gates quickly, scoring on a 19-play drive to take a 7-0 lead on a 5-yard run from quarterback Zach Heeger.

On the drive, Canyon appeared to force the Warriors into a long field-goal attempt at the Cowboys’ 23-yard line. But as it would do many times on the night, Canyon extended West’s drive with an untimely offside penalty and the Warriors would take the lead.

“That is the best 2-seed we could have gotten,” Heeger said. “That’s the best team we’ll face until the third round. Not many people around (the SCV) probably know about us, but we knew about Canyon.”

And what they knew was that Canyon presented a high-powered offense and a Division I-caliber quarterback.

“We had to win the battle on the offensive line and the defensive line,” Heeger said.

Apsay was sacked three times for minus-27 yards and the Cowboys managed just 39 yards on the ground.

The Canyon defense struggled with Heeger, who threw for 242 yards on 22-of-29 attempts, including completing his first 10 attempts of the game. Running back Nate Kutaka ran for 78 yards on 18 carries, including a six-yard touchdown, behind a strong Warriors’ offensive line.

Apsay finished the game 10-of-18 for 282 yards, a touchdown and interception, to conclude his Canyon career.

“I’m so proud of these boys,” said Canyon head coach Rich Gutierrez. “We’ve had highs and lows. It’s like life, you have to learn.”

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