Trabuco Hills won only its second game of the season Friday night, but the victory ignited a spark of optimism for the Mustangs.
The Mustangs (2-6) edged Dana Hills, 24-20, at Trabuco Hills High to lift their South Coast League record to 1-2 and remain alive in the playoff chase.
"I hope they realized tonight they can play good football," Trabuco Hills Coach Bill Crow said. "I wouldn't say it's a turning point, but it keeps us believing for the playoffs."
The Mustangs handed their hopes to senior running back Bryan Carter and he delivered, running for 166 yards in 27 carries. But more important than the yards were the minutes Carter helped erase, on offense and defense.
Dana Hills cut Trabuco Hills' lead to four with 5 minutes 56 seconds remaining when Dolphin quarterback John Morgan stumbled out of a pack of Mustang defenders and went 29 yards for a touchdown.
Trabuco Hills took over on its 29-yard line and gave Carter the ball repeatedly. Carter carried eight times for three first downs, taking the clock down to 39 seconds before Dana Hills took over on downs.
Remaining in the game at cornerback, Carter hit Dana Hills receiver B.J. Buck as he caught a pass and refused to let him out of bounds. Dana Hills (2-6, 1-2), out of timeouts, could run only one more play, an incomplete pass as time ran out.
The Mustangs' winning touchdown came on Billy Ortiz's 74-yard interception return late in the first half, the ill-fated pass delivered on a fake punt by Aaron Kaufman.