The score of the game became a secondary concern for the La Quinta High football team early in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s Garden Grove League game against Los Amigos.
Andrew Nguyen suffered what appeared to be a leg injury on a play that resulted in the go-ahead touchdown, a 12-yard run by Andrew Le off the left end.
A lengthy delay followed as the fire department and paramedics arrived at the scene.
Both teams took a knee, as has become customary as a show of good sportsmanship. When Nguyen was finally being put into the back of an ambulance, his whole team came over to support their teammate.
La Quinta came away with an emotional 29-21 victory over the host Lobos at Bolsa Grande High.
“The way that we play is we play humble,” Le said. “We play smart. We play physical. What is more important is that you worry about your brothers. You worry about your family.
“[Nguyen] wasn’t moving at all. We were really worried about him. At least we know that we came off, and we won. If anything, we can show him appreciation for who he is.
“He’s a great guy. He deserves the world. I feel like this is the only right way to pay him back.”
Down the stretch, the Lobos (2-5, 0-2 in league) had two drives into the red zone, but they could not turn them into touchdowns.
On a windy night, Los Amigos committed to running the football and had success to the tune of 196 rushing yards. The first-place Aztecs (3-4, 2-0) stopped three running plays before Hernandez threw incomplete for Adolfo Chavez near the left pylon on fourth down with 3:17 remaining.
Los Amigos got the ball back at the La Quinta 43 with 1:59 to go. A 22-yard run by Hernandez immediately put the Lobos back in the red zone.
Hernandez then attempted to roll out to his left on another scramble, but he was stopped for a two-yard loss by Le, his fourth tackle for a loss of the half.
The next three plays were all throws to the end zone on the left side. The fourth sailed out of the reach of a tightly-covered Chavez near the goal line.
Justin Boyer finished with a team-high 71 rushing yards on 19 carries. Carlos Vargas had 13 carries for 63 yards. Hernandez had 118 total yards, including a pair of short-yardage rushing touchdowns and a 16-yard passing score to Moises Magdaleno.
La Quinta’s Rolland Crisostomo rushed for a game-high total of 110 yards and two touchdowns. Long Phan added 83 rushing yards and a touchdown, and Joel Gantt had 58 rushing yards.
Crisostomo and Phan both scored rushing touchdowns on fourth-down plays.
“Converting on fourth down is a big thing for your team,” Crisostomo said. “The whole momentum changed right there.”
Crisostomo called the play that Nguyen got injured on a clean hit, but he added that the team had to come through for him afterward.
“It was sad because he is family to us,” Crisostomo said. “He put [his body on the line] just to get that touchdown for us. It really meant a lot to us, so we had to do it for him.”
Boyer exited on the Lobos’ final drive of the first half after sustaining a blow to the head. The personal foul penalty brought Los Amigos down to the La Quinta five.
Two plays later, Hernandez scored on a quarterback sneak from two yards out to cut the La Quinta lead to 21-14 just 40 seconds before halftime.
Boyer returned after the break and received carries on 10 of Los Amigos’ first 11 plays coming out of the locker room.
“Boyer is a different breed,” Lobos coach Maopu Tuato said. “He’s been battling injuries all year, and he has been anxious to get back out and give this team all he’s got.”
Tuato saw encouraging signs for his team in the narrow defeat.
“These kids, especially our younger core, are learning to fight adversity,” said Tuato, whose team plays Rancho Alamitos at Garden Grove High on Oct. 18. “Great lessons are being learned on the field thus far, leading into the future.
“I’m proud of their preparation and effort tonight. We just have to learn how to finish.”
Garden Grove League
La Quinta 29, Los Amigos 21
SCORE BY QUARTERS
La Quinta 7 – 14 – 0 – 8 — 29
Los Amigos 7 – 7 – 7 – 0 — 21
LQ – Crisostomo 20 run (Guzman kick), 5:20.
LA – Magdaleno 16 pass from Hernandez (Mejia kick), 2:05.
LQ – Phan 16 run (Guzman kick), 8:45.
LQ – Crisostomo 35 run (Guzman kick), 3:43.
LA – Hernandez 2 run (Mejia kick), 0:40.
LA – Hernandez 1 run (Mejia kick), 1:39.
LQ – Le 12 run (Rumble run), 7:47.
LQ – Crisostomo, 12-110, 2 TDs.
LA – Boyer, 19-71.
LQ – Rumble, 1-2-0, 20.
LA – Hernandez, 4-11-0, 67, 1 TD.
LQ – Le, 1-20.
LA – Chavez, 3-51.
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