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CENTURY LEAGUE : Foothill Manages Tie With El Modena

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Foothill came into Thursday night’s game with El Modena needing a victory to keep pace with the league leaders, Santa Ana Valley and Villa Park. But before the game, Foothill Coach Tom Meiss strangely brought up the possibility of a tie.

Then again, maybe it wasn’t so strange. After being blown off the ball for nearly two quarters, Foothill somehow picked itself up and salvaged a 14-14 tie at Tustin High.

The tie leaves Foothill (5-3-1, 2-1-1) a game behind the winner of tonight’s Valley-Villa Park game. El Modena (5-3-1, 1-2-1) is in trouble and needs a victory against Orange next week to have any chance at the playoffs.

“A tie’s a heck of a lot better than a loss,” Meiss said, stating the obvious. “I’m sure they’re frustrated to tie us because they had us beat. Everybody wants to beat Foothill because we’ve been on top for so long.”

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El Modena was on top, 14-0, through nearly two quarters. But the way the Vanguards dominated the line of scrimmage, the score could have been a lot worse. Three long drives produced two Frank Rubalcaba field goals of 30 and 37 yards and fullback Dan Kingman’s four-yard touchdown run.

Foothill didn’t even have a first down until the last drive of the half.

“I wouldn’t say we came out flat,” Meiss said. “It was more that they were kicking the tar out of us.”

But Foothill gained life when it went 66 yards in only five plays to score with 55 seconds left before the half. The Knights covered the last 44 yards on Tyler Lang’s pass over the middle to a wide-open Cody Clemmons.

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El Modena Coach Steve Howard said Foothill’s quick score was the key to the game.

“We gave them one like we always seem to do this year, right before the half,” Howard said. “We had them down before that, but we breathed life back into them.”

Foothill’s touchdown had the opposite effect on El Modena, which suddenly stopped running the ball effectively.

“I’m sure they made adjustments at halftime,” Howard said. “That had a lot do with us not being able to run the ball.”

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The Knights tied it on their first possession of the second half--a 55-yard drive that was capped by halfback Nick Sveslosky’s 15-yard option pass to Chad Cocolino in the corner of the end zone.

The Knights reached the El Modena 19 late in the fourth quarter but a holding penalty and a sack took them out of field-goal range. Foothill got the ball back again with two seconds left, but Lang was sacked as he tried to heave a desperation pass toward the end zone.


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