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Irvine Gets Down ‘n’ Dirty in Victory : Division II: Vaqueros avenge earlier loss to Dana Hills and win first football title in school’s history.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Power football took a beating Saturday night. Irvine, cast in the finesse role, stepped out of character to win the Southern Section Division II championship.

The Vaqueros got down and dirty, beating South Coast League rival Dana Hills, 22-11, in front of 5,000 at Orange Coast College to win the first football title in the school’s history and avenge a 27-23 loss to the Dolphins earlier this season.

This was the same Dana Hills team that had bullied its way into the final, mauling one opponent after another. But, this time, it was the Dolphins who had sand kicked in their faces.

“They thought they were going to pound it out,” Irvine defensive back Aaron Herr said. “They were supposed to be the aggressive team and roll right over us. We showed them what aggressive is.”

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The Vaqueros (12-2) gave away pounds and inches, but little else. The Dolphins (9-2-3) tried, but their bump-and-grind offense ground to a halt.

Irvine dominated the line of scrimmage against a mammoth offensive line, which is anchored by 290-pound Alfredo Diaz and 280-pound Nurcan Ciftcikara. Behind those two, the Dolphins had been averaging more then 200 yards per game on the ground.

They managed only 136 Saturday.

‘All we heard about was their size,” nose tackle John Martin said. “Yeah, they had the size, but we had the heart. You can’t win without heart.”

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The tone was set early.

On their first possession, it seemed business as usual for the Dolphins. They ran right, left and up the middle, all the way to the Irvine eight-yard line.

However, three successive running plays netted only five yards. On fourth down, they settled for a 20-yard field goal by Rob Crummel.

Although it gave Dana Hills the lead, the psychological effect was devastating.

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“I’ve seen that from our guys all season,” Coach Terry Henigan said. “They’re just tough, that’s all.”

Unable to run, the Dolphins were forced to pass. Quarterback Scott Covington completed 10 of 20 passes, but for only 73 yards.

Herr intercepted a pass, killing one drive. Robert Hernandez spoiled another, sacking Covington, who fumbled--with the ball rolling 22 yards into the the end zone for a safety that gave Irvine a 9-3 lead in the third quarter.

With the defense in control, Irvine’s offense got plenty of opportunities and made the most of them.

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Quarterback Jason Minici threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns. He threw a 32-yard scoring pass to Danny Kang on fourth and 28 to give the Vaqueros a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. He then threw a 19-yarder to Jon Peck that gave Irvine a 15-3 lead in the third quarter.

After Martin recovered a fumble, running back Scott Seal (133 yards rushing) scored on a 42-yard touchdown run that clinched the victory.


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