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Canyon Plugs In ‘the Frig’ and Ices Its 36th Straight

Times Staff Writer

Now, the Canyon High football team has two things in common with the Chicago Bears.

Both teams are undefeated and both have used defensive linemen as running backs this season.

Canyon’s Joe Zacharia, who usually gets attention because of his overpowering defensive play, did his best William Perry imitation with a nine-yard touchdown run late in the first half.

Zacharia’s run gave Canyon the lead for the first time, and the Cowboys never looked back, defeating Santa Maria, 35-7, Friday night in the Northwestern Conference quarterfinals.

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Canyon’s 36th consecutive win moved the Cowboys (12-0) to within two more victories of their third straight conference championship.

Zacharia, who played fullback as a freshman, scored with 1:55 left in the first half to give Canyon a 14-7 lead.

“A truck could have driven through that hole,” Zacharia, a 6-0, 206-pound defensive tackle, said. “The offensive line was awesome.”

Awesome was a pretty good way to describe Canyon’s performance after the Saints (6-6) had taken a 7-0 lead.

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The Cowboys limited the Saints to only 106 yards in total offense. Canyon, meanwhile, got three touchdown passes from quarterback Ken Sollom and 187 yards rushing from Lance Cross to defeat Santa Maria in a rematch of last season’s title game, won by Canyon, 33-6.

Sollom completed 10 of 21 passes for 135 yards with two interceptions.

His first interception came at the Saints’ 35, where Jeff Welbaum grabbed the ball and returned it to the Canyon 21.

From there, Santa Maria needed five plays to take the lead. Wayne Dudley’s five-yard run and Jesus Sanchez’s kick made it, 7-0.

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Sollom was intercepted again on the Cowboys’ next possession, this time at the Saint’ three-yard line.

But with 9:58 left in the first half, Santa Maria’s Mike Eames was intercepted by Derek Rusk at the Saint 21.

Six plays later, Sollom connected with his cousin, Chad Zeigler, for a seven-yard touchdown and a tie game.

Late in the half, Cross broke off a 75-yard run to the Saints’ 19. A late hit moved the ball to the 10, and two plays later, Zacharia scored.

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Canyon’s defense then held Santa Maria and forced Matt Almaguer to punt.

Almaguer had not had a punt returned in six games, but this time Zeigler returned his kick 18 yards to the Saint’ 43 with less than a minute remaining in the half.

Three plays later from the 32, Sollom lobbed a pass down the sideline toward Zeigler, who grabbed it at about the 15 and turned it into another touchdown with 29 seconds left in the half.

“In six games this year we’ve gone 60 yards or more in the last two minutes of a half,” Canyon Coach Harry Welch said. “It was a big difference, going in ahead, 21-7, instead of 14-7 and having to kick off to them.”

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After kicking off to Santa Maria and holding it, Canyon needed but three plays to make it 28-7.

First, Cross ran 61 yards down to the Saint 6. Then, Zacharia picked up three yards.

Finally, Cross, who had 16 carries, went over from three yards out to give Canyon a three-touchdown lead.

Santa Maria, meanwhile, could do nothing after its only score.

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