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Cardinals surge to victory in opener

Keoshian scores six touchdowns as defending CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-Man champs win

Posted: September 12, 2009 11:30 p.m.
Updated: September 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Santa Clarita Christian running back Collin Keoshian dives for the end zone Saturday against Christian Life Academy at Canyon High. The Cardinals won 61-28.

 
Fresh off its CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-Man football title in 2008, Santa Clarita Christian School picked up right where it left off with a 61-28 win over Christian Life Academy at Canyon High School Saturday night.

The Cardinals (1-0) were led by their offensive jack-of-all-trades Collin Keoshian, who punched in three rushing touchdowns, reached the end zone twice on scoring receptions and returned an interception for a touchdown.

"For us, we are only returning two starters on offense, so we are pleased with the way our guys came out and played on that side of the ball because we have a completely new line," said SCCS head coach Garrick Moss. "Obviously, we had some guys make some big plays, and I think as we go along we will be able to knock off some of the rust that we have right now."

SCCS struck first on an eight-yard touchdown run by Keoshian on their opening series to notch its first score of the game and open a 7-0 lead at the 5:16 mark.

Keoshian found pay dirt again with a 45-yard interception return with 1:31 remaining in the first quarter, and quarterback Colin Mayhugh slipped into the end zone on a keeper to convert a two-point conversion and make the score 15-0.

Another Keoshian touchdown, this one from 12 yards out, pushed the lead to 22 before Christian Life Academy (1-1) broke through on a sneak by quarterback Daniel Holmer, cutting the spread to 14 after a two-point conversion.

"It's cool just to get to play against the champs," said Christian Life Academy junior wide receiver A.J Bufini. "We played hard, and even though we fell behind, we didn't give up tonight. We had a chance to play against the best, and I think there were some real good things that we did out there tonight."

Mayhugh burst through the line for a 22-yard run and touchdown at the 2:12 mark in the second quarter to give the Cardinals a 30-8 lead after another two-point conversion, which the team took into intermission.

Less than a minute into the second half Mayhugh hit Keoshian in stride for a 35-yard strike that pushed the Cardinal lead to 37-8.

But the Eagles answered on the next play when Holmer connected with Bufini for a 55-yard touchdown.

Keoshian's continual pilgrimage to the end zone answered the Eagles' big play when he ran in a seven-yard score with 7:46 left in the third quarter.

He finished the day with 149 rushing yards on eight carries and 77 receiving yards on three receptions. On the defensive end, the SCCS standout had 11 tackles and a sack to go along with his interception.

Ethan Espinosa led the team with 12 tackles, while Daniel Chaplin also contributed 11 takedowns.

Mayhugh was also effective on the ground, tallying 80 yards on six carries, while going 3-for-7 for 77 yards and two touchdowns through the air.

"We have a lot that we still need to work on defensively," Moss said. "I think we were hurt by having to pretty much take a week off of practice because of the fires. We aren't quite where we want to be yet, but that's pretty much how it always is when you're playing your opener. We don't want to give up this many points, but we know what we need to work on, and we are going to work on those things."

After a 21-yard touchdown pass from Holmer to Luke Schwantner for Christian Life Academy cut the Cardinal lead to 21, Mayhugh again found Keoshian. It was the longest offensive play on the night for the Cardinals, as Keoshian blazed 42 yards for the score, which pushed the advantage to 51-22 with 2:36 left in the third quarter.

"I mean, you look at this team, and you know how talented they are, but we were not intimidated by them," Bufini said. "Even when we were down, I knew that we weren't going to give up."

After Bufini's second touchdown grab, Espinosa tallied the Cardinals' final touchdown of the night when he ran back the ensuing kick off 59 yards. Keoshian followed the play by running in the two-point conversion with 7:29 on the clock in the final frame to make it 59-28.

SCCS reached its final tally when Holmer was flagged for intentional grounding in his own end zone, which resulted in a safety.

"This was a good, hard-hitting team we were playing tonight," Moss said. "We knew they were going to push us, and test us in the spots where we don't have a lot of experience. Overall, I think we have to be pleased with this as a starting point."


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