Alemany High football Coach Enrique Lopez probably didn’t realize the double meaning of his statement Friday night when he said, “We got heart.”
But that’s exactly what the Indians had at College of the Canyons: heart and Hart.
Alemany took advantage of several Hart mistakes to register a 27-17 win. Alemany is undefeated after three games.
Hart, amazingly, fell to 0-3. The Indians had started the season ranked No. 2 by The Times in the Valley and No. 1 in the Coastal Conference by the Southern Section.
But Hart’s third loss came as a result of two crucial fumbles on kickoffs in the second half. One led to a touchdown, while the other helped Alemany maintain momentum.
Is Hart Coach Rick Scott surprised his team is still winless?
“No,” he said, “not the way I’ve seen us lose three games. I’m really trying hard to keep this in perspective. We’re really young.”
Lopez put the game in this perspective: “This is one of the biggest victories for me since I’ve been here.
“I’ve been here four years (two as head coach) and we had never beaten Hart before. Last year, we lost to them in the last three seconds.”
Hart led, 10-7, to start the second half, but Ralph Elliot fumbled the opening kickoff at the Hart 35. Kicker Grant Runnerstrum recovered the ball.
Four plays later, Dennis Mason ran six yards for a score. Runnerstrum’s kick made it 14-10 Alemany.
Hart did come back to take a 17-14 lead, when fullback Brian Baie scored from one yard out with 3:34 left in the third quarter.
But Mason immediately gave Alemany good field position when he returned the kickoff 37 yards to the Hart 39.
On the following play, Alemany quarterback Sean Casey threw a swing pass to the right that Hart’s Steve Sandusky got his hands on.
Had Sundusky held onto the ball, he would have had a clear sideline to the goal line.
Seven plays later, Mason again scored from one yard out to give Alemany a 21-17 lead with 32 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Hart’s Cedric Ingram, who had two interceptions in the first half, then fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Alemany recovered at the Hart 35.
Alemany moved down to the Hart 16 before John Libby intercepted a Casey pass at the six.
But Hart could generate no offense in the second half. Quarterback Jim Bonds had a particularly rough game.
The junior completed just nine of 27 passes for 76 yards.
And all the breaks seemed to go Alemany’s way in the second half.
With three minutes remaining in the game, Alemany’s Roy Talauera fumbled a punt. But teammate John Vallone recovered at Hart’s 43.
From there, Alemany drove to a touchdown in six plays, Jeff Portugal scoring on a run from 12 yards out. That concluded the scoring with 26 seconds remaining in the game.
Hart had opened the scoring on a Mitch Spake 32-yard field goal with 3:59 remaining in the first quarter.
But Alemany retaliated with an electrifying 81-yard scoring pass from Casey to Travis Bargeman.
On a third-and-eight from Alemany’s 19, Casey found Bargeman all alone at about the Alemany 40.
With one block, the speedster Bargeman raced untouched for the score.
Hart did come back to take a lead before halftime, as Bonds hit Ingram on a 15-yard scoring pass with 35 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
But Alemany’s Indians came back in the second half. On this night, they were the Big Chief.