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Late field-goal block sends Fountain Valley over Aliso Niguel

Fountain Valley's Noa Banua, left, celebrates scoring with Luke Taylor, center, in a nonleague game against Aliso Niguel.
Fountain Valley’s Noa Banua, left, celebrates a touchdown with Luke Taylor, center, during a nonleague game against Aliso Niguel at Huntington Beach High on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The Fountain Valley High football team forged a fourth-quarter comeback, then nearly gave it away in its nonleague finale.

Fernando Garcia made sure the Barons did not, blocking a 33-yard field goal with under a minute remaining to preserve a 16-14 victory over Aliso Niguel on Friday at Huntington Beach High.

After getting the ball back with a slim lead and just over four minutes left, the Barons came out throwing, leading to an untimely interception, as Aliso Niguel’s Jack Gill picked off quarterback Noa Banua.

Fountain Valley's Tyler Arevalos runs up field on a kickoff return against Aliso Niguel in a nonleague game on Friday.
Fountain Valley’s Tyler Arevalos runs up field on a kickoff return against Aliso Niguel in a nonleague game at Huntington Beach High on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Garcia’s block kept the mistake from coming back to haunt his team, as he broke through the middle of the Wolverines’ offensive line to make the play.

“Everybody was hyped,” Garcia, a senior defensive end, said. “It was a really close game, and to get that block, it was amazing. Everybody was excited. Everybody was pumped. Right before the play even started, they said, ‘You better go get this Nando,’ and I got it.”

Garcia added that senior defensive lineman Matthew Mena helped create a gap for him to block the field-goal attempt, which fell short of the goalposts.

Fountain Valley (4-1) secured a significant win ahead of its daunting Sunset League schedule, which begins with a home game against Corona del Mar (4-1) on Thursday. The Barons positioned themselves to need just one more victory to achieve at least a .500 record. Doing so could loom large if the Barons find themselves seeking an at-large berth into the CIF Southern Section playoffs at the end of the season.

Fountain Valley's Adrian Esquivel draws a face-mask penalty against Aliso Niguel's Luke Guttenberg on Friday.
Fountain Valley’s Adrian Esquivel draws a face-mask penalty against Aliso Niguel’s Luke Guttenberg during a nonleague game at Huntington Beach High on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“Tonight’s win was pretty big,” Nolan Olivares, a sophomore wide receiver, said. “This gives us a lot of confidence going into league. I really think that our first game, we’re going to do really well.”

Olivares found himself on the business end of all of Fountain Valley’s points in the first half. He brought in a 5-yard touchdown from Banua,and scored a field goal.

Gill’s second rushing touchdown gave Aliso Niguel (3-2) the lead at 14-10 in the third quarter. It came after the senior running back showcased his athleticism on a 41-yard carry, during which he weaved through traffic to the Fountain Valley 2-yard line.

Fountain Valley's Luke Taylor avoids a tackle by Aliso Niguel's Damon Anderson-Wolf during a nonleague game on Friday.
Fountain Valley’s Luke Taylor avoids a tackle by Aliso Niguel’s Damon Anderson-Wolf during a nonleague game at Huntington Beach High on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“Jack’s a stud,” Aliso Niguel coach Michael Calahan said. “He doesn’t say much at practice, and if you saw him on campus, you wouldn’t think he’s a football player. He looks like a typical Orange County surfer kid, but come Friday nights, it’s a different look for him, and he just goes. He wants the ball, he wants to be all over the field and he’s a joy to coach.”

The Barons had multiple chances to answer, coming up empty in a goal-to-go situation when Gill tackled Max Smith well behind the line of scrimmage on a fourth-down running play off the right edge.

Undeterred, Fountain Valley retook the lead, as Banua found Luke Taylor on a crossing route out of the slot for an 18-yard touchdown.

“He’s just a little workhorse and he shows up in big moments,” Fountain Valley coach David Gutierrez said of Taylor. “He’s made a ton of big plays. Sometimes, they’re overshadowed because we have a high-scoring game, but [they’re] huge plays. The catch over the middle; the drag across [to] make it a touchdown.

“He trusts Noa, and Noa trusts him. They really count on each other, so they’re doing a great job.”

Fountain Valley's Adrian Esquivel and teammates celebrate after getting a stop against Aliso Niguel in the final seconds.
Fountain Valley’s Adrian Esquivel and teammates celebrate after getting a fourth down stop against Aliso Niguel in the final seconds of a nonleague game at Huntington Beach High on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Fountain Valley 16, Aliso Niguel 14

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Aliso Niguel 0 – 7 – 7 – 0 — 14

Fountain Valley 0 – 10 – 0 – 6 — 16

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

AN — Gill, 8-86, 2 TDs.

FV — Pham, 15-45; Esquivel, 3-30; Banua, 5-29.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

AN — Najm, 5-16-0, 63; Gill, 1-1-0, 16.

FV — Banua, 16-23-2, 156, 2 TDs.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

AN — Williams, 1-38.

FV — Taylor, 8-94, 1 TD.

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