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Saugus football stuns Atascadero

At-large bid Centurions sneak out a 34-27 win

Posted: November 15, 2013 11:21 p.m.
Updated: November 15, 2013 11:21 p.m.
 

ATASCADERO — The Saugus Centurions stunned the Pac-7 League champion Atascadero Greyhounds Friday in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs at Memorial Stadium.

The Greyhounds had the game and lost it 34-27.

Watching the ball flop away twice in the final quarter with a chance to put the Centurions away simply can’t feel good no matter how it’s parsed.

“We kind of thought we had it there for a while, and then I don’t know what happened,” said Atascadero junior receiver Cooper Kuhnle. “They made a good play on us and we weren’t able to come back.”

With a string of big plays — a 75-yard touchdown catch by Kuhnle, a 32-yard punt return by senior Louie Thek, a 66-yard touchdown run by senior Izaiah Cooks, a 51-yard touchdown catch by Sam Neely and finally, a 97-yard kick return for a touchdown by Kuhnle — the Greyhounds (8-3) were able to stay a step ahead of Saugus (6-5) for most of the night even though the Centurions dominated possession.

But with its workhorse Cooks sidelined for the second half with a concussion, Atascadero had to turn to less experienced rushers, and on third-and-4 at the Saugus 34 with the Greyhounds driving for the potential winning score with 5:47 left to play, sophomore running back Marc Martin lost his grip on the ball, and Centurions linebacker Noah Belt returned it to the Saugus 45.

Saugus instead broke a 27-all tie with a 7-yard touchdown run by running back Reid Rupe late in the fourth quarter.

The Centurions tied the score at 27-27 minutes earlier when a third-and-10 pass by Chris Hamilton went right to Atascadero senior linebacker Ryan Lombardi. With nothing in his line of sight but green grass, Lombardi could not haul in the interception in the flat, and Saugus kicked a 35-yard field goal on the next play.

The Greyhounds were grossly outgained by the Centurions.

Saugus totaled 28 first downs to Atascadero’s nine, dominating on the ground.

Running a no-huddle spread option, Hamilton rushed 26 times for 113 yards, and running back Reid Rupe carried 26 times for 208 yards and the game-winning 7-yard touchdown with 2:21 left to play. Blake Austin also carried 15 times for 90 yards.

“They were getting so tired, it was ridiculous,” Rupe said. “We just kept driving and driving.

“They just couldn’t stop our run. Coming into the game, we knew we were going to run the ball the entire time.”

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