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Hart football: Indians save best for last

Hart makes gutsy two-point conversion to win game

Posted: November 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

MIRA COSTA - Hart’s back in familiar territory.

After missing the playoffs last season for the first time under head coach Mike Herrington, the Indians find themselves back in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs after a 15-14, come-from-behind victory over Palos Verdes at Mira Costa High on Friday night.

For 59 minutes, the Hart offense looked as though the return trip to the playoffs wouldn’t last through the night.

The Indians moved the ball successfully on the opening drive, but an interception in the end zone by quarterback Connor Wingenroth ended Hart’s chances to go ahead early on.

Wingenroth finished the game 16-of-27 for 206 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

But when he took the field with 2:08 left to play and at his own 20-yard line, none of those mistakes mattered.

Wingenroth and the Hart offense channeled Indians teams of old orchestrating an 80-yard drive that culminated in Wingenroth’s 51-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Trent Irwin to pull within 14-13 with 38.5 seconds remaining.

And Hart wasn’t about to go to overtime.

Wingenroth found wide receiver Wes Fitzpatrick in the back of the end zone, where the receiver got both feet down before falling out of the back of the end zone to put the Indians ahead for good.

Hart’s defense, which has been suspect against the run all season, gave up 200 yards and a 64-yard touchdown to Palos Verdes running back Carl Aguirre to give the Sea Kings an early 7-0 lead with 8:42 to play in the first half.

Hart responded late in the half when Wingenroth found wideout Riley Stauffer for a 13-yard score to send the teams into the locker room tied at seven.

In the second half, the Indians defense held strong at the Palos Verdes 22-yard line, forcing a 32-yard field goal attempt that was missed by the Sea Kings’ Drew Nolls.

But an ill-timed roughing-the-kicker penalty by the Indians kept the Sea Kings’ hopes alive.

And quarterback Zach Fixen made them pay.

Fixen ran 15 yards for the touchdown to put the Sea Kings up 14-7 with 5:41 to go in the third.

Oddly enough, the play of the game might have come on the previous possession, when Hart punter Rhett Almond took a rolling snap, somehow avoided a block and booted the ball 51 yards.

And that’s when the Sea Kings made their biggest mistake of the night.

It looked like the Sea Kings had an opportunity to run out the clock with just over two minutes remaining and the Indians down to their final time out.

But a personal foul pushed Palos Verdes out of field goal range and forced a punt with 2:02 remaining to set up Wingenroth’s heroics.

Now Hart will face an even stiffer challenge when they host Westlake High on Friday night.

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