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SCCS all alone at the top

Santa Clarita Christian wins outright Heritage League title with win over rival Faith Baptist

Posted: November 7, 2009 11:55 p.m.
Updated: November 8, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Santa Clarita Christian running back Colin Mayhugh rushes against Faith Baptist on Saturday at Harry Welch Stadium. The Cardinals won 40-34.

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The Santa Clarita Christian football team entered Heritage League play with sub-.500 record, banged-up and struggling to score after a 48-0 mercy-rule loss Oct. 10 to Windward.

What a difference a month makes.

Four weeks and three wins later, and the Cardinals finished an up-and-down regular season on the highest note possible Saturday, defeating rival Faith Baptist 40-34 at Canyon High to take its first outright Heritage League title.

“There were a few lows, but then it started rushing upwards,” said Cardinals’ Collin Keoshian, describing the team’s momentum on the season.

“We were mercied by Windward and then we got blown out by Thacher. It’s been a tough season, but we stayed by the Lord and persevered,” he added.

The Brigham Young-bound Keoshian has been a force all over the field for the Cardinals (6-4, 3-0) this season, and his role as the go-to man couldn’t have been more clear on Saturday.

Faith Baptist (7-2, 2-1) got on the scoreboard first when Contenders quarterback Nick Wallin hit wide receiver Matt Rasmussen in the back of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Wallin then found A.J. Woodson for a 2-point conversion to put the Cardinals in the hole 8-0.

On the ensuing drive, Keoshian scored his first touchdown with a 1-yard burst through the line of scrimmage and then followed up his score with a successful 2-point try to tie it up.

Keoshian finished the night with 26 carries for 175 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

Cardinals running back Colin Mayhugh had seen performances like this from his teammate all year, but was still impressed by Keoshian’s determination.

“(Keoshian) ran harder than I’ve ever seen him go before. He was unstoppable, running through guys and hitting holes harder than I’ve ever seen him,” Mayhugh said.

Mayhugh delivered several key runs himself, notching 67 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

“But you have to give it to our defense as well. They played so great and really won the battle for us,” Mayhugh said.

The Cardinals forced Faith Baptist to punt, and on SCCS’s next possession, Keoshian found the end zone again on an 11-yard run to put his team up 16-8.

The Contenders put together a long drive on the athleticism of Wallin and running back Austin Fry, whose quickness gave SCCS fits.

Wallin passed for another score to Rasmussen and ran one in himself to give the Contenders a 20-16 lead at the half.

In contrast to the long offensive drives that characterized the first half, a series of clutch defensive stops gave SCCS the edge in the final frames.

Keoshian traded touchdowns with Wallin to start the second half leaving SCCS behind 28-24.

On the next drive, Mayhugh managed to turn a seemingly broken play into a 21-yard run for a score and a 32-28 lead after Keoshian ran in the 2-point try.

But then it would be up to the Cardinals’ defense.

With the clock winding down, things began to look grim for the Cardinals. The Contenders notched a first-and-goal from the 6-yard line and looked ready to score.

Then Daniel Chaplin and Kirill Gillis notched two critical sacks to push Faith Baptist back to the 22-yard line. The Contenders answered with a pair of delay-of-game penalties before a bad snap forced the team to a fourth-and-36.

Cardinals Chris Fechtelkotter defended a Hail Mary fourth-down pass and the Cardinals had it back, and Keoshian had one more score left in the tank.

A 10-yard touchdown run later, followed by a 2-point run both by who else, Keoshian, earned SCCS a 40-28 lead, a league title and a Gatorade shower for head coach Garrick Moss.

Wallin answered with one more touchdown, but the 2-point try and ensuing onside kick both failed and SCCS ran out the clock near the Contenders’ goal line.

Moss couldn’t have been happier with his team’s defensive stand at the end or the way his team responded this season.

“People see the points we give up, but you have to look at the personnel have we’ve had to mix and match. ... It’s been a struggle, but it was great to see our defense step up and make those big plays,” Moss said.

SCCS will find out its first-round opponent on Monday, when CIF playoff brackets are announced. By virtue of their league championship, the Cardinals will play at home.



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