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Prep football: A Cents of relief

Saugus hangs on after building a 12-point lead in the first half

Posted: August 24, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 24, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Saugus' Krishan Pierce takes the opening kickoff of the second half deep into Calabasas territory on Thursday at Cougar Stadium.

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The Chris Hamilton era at Saugus High got off to a shaky start Thursday night, and not really by much fault of his own.

The sophomore signal caller had three interceptions, one which was tipped at the line, another that popped out of his receiver’s hands and another that was tipped by a receiver.

But the Centurions did just enough to halt a second half rally by visiting Calabasas, as Saugus’ Dakota Taylor intercepted a pass from the Coyotes’ Ike Fuchs at the 1-yard line to seal an 18-15 Saugus victory at College of the Canyons.

After losing its leading passer and rusher, quarterback Jared Carbajal, to graduation in May, the Centurions (1-0 overall) said they were ready to open up things more in the passing game than in recent years.

For the most part, that proved true on Thursday, as Hamilton showcased his arm and composure in the pocket.

The Centurions, though, by no means abandoned the running game, which has been their bread and butter.

Running back Vincent Gerardo did most of the heavy lifting for Saugus, with Hamilton displaying the quickness and agility that enabled him to play defensive back as a freshman last season.

Hamilton contributed 63 yards on the ground, including a 1-yard touchdown run on the games’ opening drive, to put Saugus ahead 7-0 with 3:41 to play in the first quarter.

He finished the game with 113 yards passing on 9-of-17 attempts with one touchdown.

Gerardo ran for 91 yards on 15 carries.

The Centurions added to their lead late in the second quarter, scoring 10 points in the final 1:53 of the half, on a 32-yard reception by Kevin Lee and a 41-yard field goal by kicker Alex Sanchez to take an 18-6 halftime lead.

That’s where things got shaky for the Centurions.

An 80-yard kickoff return from Saugus’ Krishan Pierce put the ball at the Calabasas 12-yard line and threatened to put the game out of reach.

But Hamilton made his one true mistake of the game on the ensuing possession, fumbling the ball into the end zone to swing momentum back in the Coyotes’ favor.

The Coyotes (0-1) slowly chipped away at Saugus’ lead, as Fuchs hit Anthony Freeman for a 20-yard touchdown to pull within 18-12 with 5:19 to go in the third quarter.

Calabasas added a 34-yard field goal by Fuchs with 3:21 to play to make it 18-15.

After a defensive stand, the Coyotes had one more chance to send the game to overtime or secure victory, but a 16-yard holding call negated a first-down reception deep in Saugus territory and set up a fourth-and-long play that resulted in Taylor’s game-ending interception as time expired.

The penalty was one of many for the Coyotes, who committed 15 infractions for 96 yards in the contest.

Running back Anthony Wright led the way for Calabasas on the ground, rushing six times for 38 yards and hauling in four passes for 31 yards.

Running back Marshall Faulk Jr., added a 3-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter to pull to within 7-6, after Saugus blocked Fuchs’ point-after attempt.

Austin Gomes was the leading receiver for Saugus, which will be back on the field Aug. 31 at home against Simi Valley, with 63 yards on five receptions.

Fuchs finished 20-of-32 with 234 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

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