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Late surge carries Indians football past West Ranch

Hart outscores West Ranch 26-6 in second half

Posted: November 6, 2009 11:46 p.m.
Updated: November 7, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Hart running back Jake Stephens (43) finds a hole in West Ranch's defense and goes for Hart's first touchdown of the game at Valencia on Friday. Stephens rushed for 125 yards on 21 carries and four touchdowns in a 43-26 win.

West Ranch football was right there.

Trading blows with tradition-rich Hart into the second half Friday night at Valencia High.

Just after scoring a touchdown to pull to within five points late in the third quarter, the fledgling Wildcats saw it all fall apart in a span of seconds.

An 80-yard connection from Hart quarterback C.J. Reyes to wide receiver Ty MacArthur gave the Indians more cushion and eventually led to their 43-26 victory over West Ranch.

"I think it helped give the momentum to us," MacArthur said of his touchdown being the play that changed the game.

Up to that point, the Indians (6-3, 3-1) and Wildcats (5-4, 2-2) played a game of offensive one-upsmanship.

There was only one punt and the lead changed hands six times before the touchdown.

West Ranch quarterback Connor Eichten connected with Matt Szymanski on a 35-yard touchdown pass with 32.9 seconds to play in the third quarter, cutting Hart's leads to 31-26.

On the very next offensive play, Reyes found MacArthur at the West Ranch 35-yard line. MacArthur skipped a would-be tackler then cut left. He raced down the field untouched for the score, building the lead up to 37-26.

MacArthur caught eight passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns.

His first score, a 15-yard reception, gave Hart a 24-20 lead early in the third quarter.

Reyes finished 14-of-18 for 322 yards and two touchdown passes.

But Hart's defense couldn't stop Eichten and the West Ranch offense in the first half.

The Wildcats scored on all three of their first-half drives - taking leads of 6-0, 13-7 and 20-14.

Eichten, who was 21-of-34 for 301 yards and two touchdowns, opened up the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown pass to James McGough.

Running back Zak Snell scored the other two touchdowns on runs of 6 and 2 yards.

Snell finished with 109 yards on 19 carries.

But West Ranch's defense also struggled to stop Hart's offense.

Hart drove 54 yards in 42.4 seconds and Reyes Kicked a 33-yard field goal as the first half expired to cut the Wildcats' lead to 20-17.

A difference in the second half was Hart's ability to halt the West Ranch offense.

Early in the fourth quarter, Hart's Michael Eiden intercepted an Eichten pass and took it back 56 yards.

The Indians would also force West Ranch to turn the ball over on downs twice in the frame.

"In the second half, we played smarter on defense," said Hart head coach Mike Herrington. "A couple of situations (in the first half) we weren't in the right place. ... (At halftime, the coaches said) ‘Settle down and work on the things we worked on in practice.'"

And the result was Hart outscoring West Ranch 26-6 in the second half.

Hart running back Jake Stephens scored four times in the game on runs of 36, 4, 4 and 1 yards.

He ran for 125 yards on 21 carries.

"There's always so many things you wish you could change," Eichten said. "A couple of plays here and there could have changed the momentum. But that's just the way it is."

Eichten said he felt his offense was making plays in the second half, but couldn't sustain the momentum.

Maybe it was stolen from the Wildcats in an instant.

Now Hart, after next Friday's game with Golden Valley, will be going to the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs.

The Indians, by virtue of this latest win, could do no worse than second place in the Foothill League.

It's the 21st time in Herrington's 21 seasons as Hart head coach that his Indians have made the playoffs.

West Ranch needs Saugus to lose to Canyon in order to make the playoffs.

It would be the Wildcats fist trip ever.

If ...


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