The officials giveth, and the officials taketh away.
The men in the striped shirts did both Friday night, placing a heavy hand--which was usually reaching for a yellow flag--in Canyon High’s 10-9 Golden League victory over host Antelope Valley.
Canyon was penalized 7 times for 70 yards, Antelope Valley 4 times for 40 yards.
However, the Cowboys (6-2, 3-0 in league play), returning to the site where their famed 46-game winning streak was snapped 2 years ago, left the field perplexed by several of the officials’ calls, especially one in the third quarter that resulted in a safety for Antelope Valley.
Canyon linebacker Brian Zemojtel blocked Chris Yergensen’s 21-yard field-goal attempt, but the Cowboys were charged with a safety when linebacker John Bietsch downed the ball in the end zone.
Bietsch, the officials ruled, had scooped up the ball on the 1-yard line and carried it into the end zone.
“Oh, man,” Canyon tailback-defensive back Chris Peery said. “The calls they were making were ridiculous. Just like when we came up here 2 years ago. It was like they had a 12th man.”
Peery, who rushed for 124 yards in 24 carries, was the Cowboys’ big man. He recovered fullback Tommie Smith’s fumble on the Canyon 3-yard line with 7:55 to play, then carried 11 times for 69 yards in a 15-play, 94-yard drive, which chewed up the remainder of the clock before dying on the Antelopes’ 3.
The officials aided the drive, however, by flagging the Antelopes (6-2, 2-1) for a 15-yard holding penalty.
Regarding Smith’s fumble, Antelope Valley Coach Brent Newcomb said, “That just kills ya, but it’s my best player who has the ball.”
Of the blocked field goal, Newcomb said, “I didn’t even see it. I was looking for the ball. There might have been a little home cookin’, I don’t know.”
Canyon Coach Harry Welch certainly was cooking. He argued the call, vehemently. But after the game, Welch had cooled.
“I’d rather not comment on the officiating,” Welch said. “It detracts from a great game. We held them to 7 points. But that touchdown they scored goes back to the officiating. The officials drove the ball down the field.”
Three times for a total of 45 yards, to be exact. The Antelopes’ first-quarter touchdown drive was aided by a Canyon pass-interference penalty, coupled with an unsportsmanlike conduct call and a 15-yard face mask penalty.
The drive culminated with Smith, who rushed for 46 yards in 15 carries, tossing a 14-yard option pass to Brandon Newcomb for a 7-0 lead.
Canyon’s Steve Mann kicked a 21-yard field goal early in the second quarter for Canyon’s first score. The Antelopes forced the kick by repulsing the Cowboys after a first down at the 5.
Canyon scored the game-winner on a 5-yard run by quarterback Rod Baltau (9 completions, 21 attempts, 105 yards, 1 interception) to cap an 11-play, 42-yard drive, which was sustained by a 17-yard fourth-down completion to Clint Beauer at the 14.
With a fourth and 1 at the 5, Baltau faked a pitch and darted in for the touchdown.