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SCCS first leads to return trip

Cardinals to play Faith Baptist in rematch of 2008 finals

Posted: November 29, 2009 12:17 a.m.
Updated: November 29, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Santa Clarita Christian's Colin Mayhugh (5) runs against Thacher on Saturday at Canyon High in the CIF-Southern Section 8-Man Division I semifinals. The Cardinals won the game 62-22, advancing to the finals for the second straight season.

Santa Clarita Christian running back Colin Mayhugh couldn’t have picked a better night to have his biggest game of the year.

The senior rusher tallied 203 yards on 13 carries, and added a throwing and rushing touchdown to help lead the Cardinals back to the championship game of the CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-man football playoffs with a 62-22 win over The Thacher School at Canyon High on Saturday.

It was also the Cardinals' first-ever win over Thacher.

“I was just trying to run every down as hard as I could and play every down as though it could have been my last,” Mayhugh said. “Because we knew it could be our last game.”

The performance helped guarantee his team would have at least one more. And better yet, the opportunity will be a rematch of last year’s 50-28 Cardinal victory in the title game.

After the win, SCCS (8-4) head coach Garrick Moss sang the praises of both Mayhugh and Collin Keoshian, the division’s reigning player of the year, but added it was the Cardinals’ play on the other side of the ball that earned the win this week.

“Our defense was definitely the difference,” Moss said. “They came out and played so intense. This was a team that was averaging 70 points a game in the first two rounds. To be able to hold them to 22, I’m really proud of this team.”

Neither team received much of a test in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

SCCS won its first two playoff games by an average of 53 points and Thacher by 52.

But the Cardinals’ slow start almost made this one a battle.

SCCS survived five first-half penalties for at least 60 yards and a turnover on its own 5-yard line to manage a 28-14 lead at the break.

Keoshian got the offense started by capping off his team’s first scoring drive with a 1-yard burst up the middle untouched. Mayhugh was stopped on a two-point try around the edge, and SCCS led 6-0.

The teams traded possessions, but eventually Thacher (10-2) found an answer through the air.

Toad quarterback Austin Krause found running back Cole Ryder on a streak pattern down the sideline for a 65-yard touchdown. The Toads’ two-point conversion try was stuffed to tie it at 6-6.

But one good play deserves another.

On the game’s next snap from the line of scrimmage, Mayhugh found Keoshian wide open across the middle of the field on a fade route.

Sixty-five yards later, SCCS had its lead back to 12-6 after Thacher stopped another two-point try with 10:48 in the second quarter.

Keoshian found wide receiver Chris Fechtelkotter on touchdown passes of 10 and 22 yards to put his team up 28-14 as time expired in the half. The second was in response to a 2-yard touchdown run by Ryder.

But it was as close as Thacher would get.

The Cardinals, led by Mayhugh and Keoshian, ripped up yard after yard on the ground in the second half.

SCCS’ defense wouldn’t relent an answer. The Cardinals built a 40-14 lead in the first five minutes in the third quarter as they cruised toward their first-ever win over Thacher.

Krause managed a 12-yard run halfway into the third for his team’s final score.

Keoshian garnered four rushing touchdowns in the second half, several of them set up by long Mayhugh runs.

By the end of the night, Keoshian’s stat line was equally impressive — five rushing touchdowns, a passing touchdown and a receiving score to go with 216 yards from scrimmage.

Moss said it’s been a tough year, and he understands the doubts people had in his group, which at one point was 2-4 after a pair of losses.

“When we were 2-4, I was thinking we’re probably not going back to the championship, but I always knew we had the talent to,” he said.

“The one thing about this team is that they never give up.”     

Six straight wins later and the Cardinals are back for their title defense.

The championship game will be played on Saturday at a time to be determined at Faith Baptist.

SCCS beat Faith 40-34 at Canyon High on Nov. 7.



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