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Cardinals on the verge of history

SCCS to play for first ever CIF 8-man football championship

Posted: November 29, 2008 9:46 p.m.
Updated: November 30, 2008 4:55 a.m.
 
LOS ANGELES - Santa Clarita Christian running back Collin Keoshian was in trouble Saturday at Windward School.

Facing pressure from two Wildcat defenders, Keoshian avoided them and scrambled a good five yards to his left. The Cardinal senior unleashed a pass right before another Windward lineman got to him.

Keoshian's pass was completed to a wide-open Steven Borden for a 23-yard touchdown and a 12-point lead.

Santa Clarita Christian went on to beat Windward, 26-21, in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-Man Football Playoffs. The Cardinals (10-2) handed the Wildcats (11-1) their first loss this season.

"It was a scramble play, so I just had to run," Keoshian said. "There was nowhere to run, so I had to go around the corner. I saw Steven Borden and I shot it to him."

Santa Clarita Christian's opponent in the championship game will be Faith Baptist of Canoga Park, who on Saturday won 18-14 over Thacher of Ojai. The game will be a rematch of a Nov. 1 Heritage League matchup, won 46-32 by the Contenders at Faith Baptist in Canoga Park.

"We're pumped to be playing a league rival," said Santa Clarita Christian head coach Garrick Moss. "Our guys battled hard. We never gave up."

The time and date will not be officially known until Monday. Though it will be a home game for the Cardinals, the venue is yet to be determined. It will be the second time in team history the Cardinals will play for a CIF-SS championship.

Borden withstood a hit as he tumbled into the back of the end zone. He appeared to have possession of the ball before the hit.

Keoshian ran for 119 yards on 21 carries, adding another 107 yards on 4-for-8 passing. With 2:08 left in the third quarter, Keoshian added a 3-yard touchdown plunge on fourth-and-1 that tied the game at 14.

The Wildcats went into the game having allowed only 39 points this season.

"It was our whole team that wanted it," Keoshian said. "We all wanted it. We all went 100 percent every play. We didn't give up. We wanted it more than they did."

After the strike to Borden capped a 19-0 run, Windward answered with a huge pass play of its own.

With 5:49 left, on fourth-and-20, Wildcat quarterback James Ondattaja flipped a quick pass to Blayr Jimmerson. The running back sped behind Ryan Espinosa for a 50-yard touchdown, cutting SCCS's lead to 26-21.

"Teams knew they could beat us with the deep pass," Moss said. "We should've put a safety back there."

From that point on, Santa Clarita ran out the clock. But not without some last-minute drama.

On third-and-15 on the Windward 29, Keoshian took a low snap. He found Borden for 10 yards. With 2:33 left, on fourth-and-5, Keoshian got another first down. He ran it around the corner and jumped into two defenders.

On fourth-and-2 on the 3, Keoshian dove for another first down.

That allowed the Cardinals to wind the clock down with no timeouts left for the Wildcats.

With 1:58 left in the third quarter, Santa Clarita Christian took its first lead of the game. As Ondattaja went back to pass from his own end zone, Cardinal defensive end Daniel Chaplin got his arm on the back of his wrist to force a fumble.

Defensive end Joe Grayem pounced on the pigskin for a touchdown, which put SCCS up, 20-14. Chaplin had three sacks.

"We hit the guy, and Joe fell on top of the ball," Chaplin said. "The only points they got was with the big plays."

Thirty game seconds after Grayem's score, Espinosa intercepted a lofty pass thrown by Ondattaja. That set up the drive finished by Borden's TD catch.

"Our defense came out and really played well," Moss said. "They really rose to the challenge. We got a ton of pressure. We disrupted everything."

Windward took a 14-7 lead at halftime.

With 1:39 left in the first quarter, Bryce Napier found A.J. Frank for a 56-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

Santa Clarita Christian tied the score on a 44-yard sprint by Colin Mayhugh on a sweep play.

The Wildcats took their final lead on a 28-yard reception by Sam Miller, on a pump fake by Ondattaja.

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