Limping noticeably from the loss of its starting tailback and reeling from a close loss last week, the makeshift El Modena offense steadied itself just in time Thursday, and scored a touchdown with 48 seconds remaining to defeat Canyon, 17-10.
The victory was El Modena's first in the Century League this season and gave it a big shot of confidence in front of about 3,500 at El Modena High.
The Vanguards (5-2, 1-1) played without Aaron Santana, a senior tailback who has gained 685 yards this season. Santana injured his knee last week in El Modena's 33-30 loss to Villa Park and sat out Thursday's game.
Without Santana, Coach Steve Howard moved quarterback Cesar Vasquez to tailback and moved wide receiver Bobby Calderon to quarterback.
"We have kids playing out of position because of an injured player and they had to suck it up and they did," Howard said.
Although Calderon had never before taken a snap in a game, he seemed to know just what to do when El Modena got the ball with a little more than a minute remaining and the score tied, 10-10.
"We wanted to drive it down their throats," Calderon said.
After taking over at the Vanguard 44, Calderon connected with Vasquez for a 17-yard pass play, then Dan Kingman carried another 14 yards to the Comanche 25-yard line. After Calderon completed a four-yard pass to James Goins and sent another one incomplete, he took the ball himself and dove for the first down at the 11-yard line.
Kingman gained another two yards before the Comanches were called for being offside, moving the Vanguards down to the five-yard line. Vasquez dove three yards over the top and Kingman ran it in from the two.
The beginning of the game, however, was inauspicious for the Vanguards, who are ranked No. 10 in Southern Section Division V.
Calderon fumbled on the Vanguards' first drive and Canyon took over at the El Modena 22-yard line. El Modena stalled Canyon briefly, forcing second down and 20 at the 21-yard line six plays later, but then Craig Scott connected with Kody Miller for an 11-yard pass play and Scott passed to Miller again for a touchdown for the Comanches (5-2, 1-1).
In the second quarter, El Modena's Mike Alvidrez intercepted a Scott pass and returned it six yards to the El Modena 38-yard line. Four plays later, El Modena faced fourth and three from its 45-yard line. On a fake punt play, Calderon took the snap and ran it 20 yards to the Canyon 35. Three plays later, Calderon hit Long in the end zone for a 35-yard scoring pass.