Oddly, in a game that featured 105 points and nearly 1,000 yards of total offense, Tustin needed a key defensive play to seal its Southern Section Division V second-round victory Friday at Tustin High.
Although Tustin’s Deshaun Foster rushed for 180 yards and scored five touchdowns, his teammate, Shane Vickers, intercepted a pass with 37 seconds remaining and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to seal Tustin’s wild victory, 60-45, over Loara.
“The game was exactly what I thought it would be,” Tustin Coach Myron Miller said with a laugh. “A real defensive struggle.”
Third-seeded Tustin (11-1) rushed for 429 yards, rolled up 570 yards of total offense and advanced to play second-seeded Santa Margarita (11-1) in the semifinals next Saturday at a site to be determined.
Although John Duhon rushed for 191 yards and four touchdowns in 25 carries to help Loara (8-4) amass 416 yards of total offense, the Saxon defense couldn’t stop Tustin’s relentless rushing attack, which was led by 1,000-yard rushers Foster, Brandon Lambert and Greg Carnal.
Lambert rushed for 125 yards in 14 carries, Carnal rushed for 61 yards and two touchdowns in nine carries and Dominique Degrammont rushed for 57 yards in five carries for the Tillers, who had 22 rushing first downs.
Although the Tillers moved at will on the ground, they kept the Saxons honest with a few well-timed passes. Foster caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Todd Scott and a 76-yard scoring pass from Lambert on a halfback toss.
Tustin piled up 380 yards and 37 points in the first half but still only led by eight.
“Obviously, we didn’t play great defense tonight,” Miller said. “But our coaching staff made some great adjustments at halftime and we did play defense at the right times.”
Tustin’s Julius Williams made an interception after Loara had closed to within 45-37, then Foster scored on a 50-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 53-37.
Loara answered on its next drive when quarterback Archie Lappin, who passed for 171 yards and a touchdown, completing nine of 14 passes, scored on a 35-yard run and Duhon’s two-point conversion run cut the lead to 53-45 with 6:15 remaining.
Loara’s defense held and Lappin intercepted a fourth-down pass to give the Saxons the ball at their 18 with 1:15 remaining. But Carnal sacked Lappin on the next play, then Vickers made the clinching interception.