Fountain Valley football rides big third quarter to win over Canyon

Noa Banua, seen against Marina in 2022, threw six touchdown passes against Canyon in a nonleague game Thursday.
Fountain Valley’s Noa Banua, seen against Marina on Sept. 9, 2022, threw six touchdown passes against Canyon in a nonleague game on Thursday.
(File Photo)

Fountain Valley rallied from a quick deficit in a tight encounter to eke out a lead heading into the break Thursday night in its final test before Sunset League play kicks off in two weeks.

Then it was suddenly 1978.

The Barons exploded for five touchdowns in the third quarter, taking advantage of three turnovers and engineering lightning-quick drives to overwhelm visiting Anaheim Canyon en route to a 48-10 romp that has confidence soaring as they aim for their first CIF Southern Section playoff berth in five years.

Noa Banua matched his career high by throwing six touchdown passes — four of them in the third quarter — as Fountain Valley extended a 14-7 halftime advantage into a 41-point lead in the first 10 minutes following halftime. Lucas Alexander hauled in four scoring passes, including both first-half touchdowns and a tone-setting 73-yard bomb on the second half’s third play.


Just eight plays covering 192 yards over two minutes, 15 seconds were required for the first four scores, and the fifth — a comparative marathon at five plays and two minutes — followed Brady Tomko’s 60-yard return after intercepting Canyon’s Corin Rynders at the Barons 1 and forged a fourth-quarter running clock.

“Yeah, big third quarter. They did well ...,” third-year head coach David Gutierrez said. “Us taking advantage of their mistakes and being able to score is big. ... We’ve been on the other end of it, so we understand how it can snowball. Now that we’re on this side of it, we’re taking advantage of it.

“That’s just an experienced program and getting guys more reps and understanding football and understanding how to take advantage of those moments and then how to be successful.”

It was a potentially transformative performance in a must-win game for Fountain Valley (3-2), which hasn’t won in the Sunset League since 2018 and has just three league victories since 2014. The Barons, who have next week off, open league play Sept. 28 against title favorite Los Alamitos, the three-time defending champion.

“Definitely a lot [of confidence],” said Alexander, who caught six balls for 138 yards. “It’s going to be a fun league season and, hopefully, playoffs. Hopefully, we’ll get there.”

For a quarter, the Barons looked dominant like the CIF top-tier title winners of 45 years past. It seemed to come from nowhere.

Canyon (1-3) methodically took the opening kickoff, marched 76 yards on a 13-play drive that lasted half the first quarter. Noah Eckenrode carried eight times for 23 yards, took a swing pass for 34 yards, and provided the lead with a 1-yard charge. Fountain Valley answered in kind, going 80 yards in 18 plays and eight-plus minutes as Gabriel Regalado ran for 40 yards and Banua hit on seven of eight passes for 52 yards, finding Alexander open in the end zone for a 10-yard finish.

The Chargers beat Huntington Beach, 19-13, behind three touchdown passes from Mia Cassel in flag football’s inaugural season.

Sept. 14, 2023

Banua’s 13-yard pass to an open Alexander two possessions later gave the Barons the lead in the final minute of the first half. They were unstoppable when they returned to the field, scoring twice in the first 81 seconds, then making it 35-7 moments after getting the ball back.

Alexander hauled in the 73-yard touchdown streaking down the right sideline, and after Sam Garza collected Eckenrode’s fumble on the Comanches’ 22 on the first play after kickoff, Banua connected with a wide-open Malakai Hughes for a 17-yard score.

Garza picked off a deflected Rynders pass at the Canyon 46 seven plays later, and Regalado tallied on a 15-yard run a minute after that. After Fountain Valley’s defense forced a three-and-out, Nolan Olivares took a quick sideline pass 53 yards on the next play to make it 41-7. Tomko’s interception set up Alexander’s last touchdown.

“That was amazing, just scoring from every drive,” said Banua, who matched his six-touchdown performance in the opening-week win over Troy while completing 17 of 23 passes for 285 yards and running for another 68 yards on seven carries. “That was amazing, just dominance. What we talked about: just dominate.

“Coming off the loss [last week] against Tustin and bouncing back, knowing we can dominate, and we did. ... Definitely a good time to have it, in a home game, seeing everybody here, a lot of peers and especially the principal.”


Fountain Valley 48, Anaheim Canyon 10


Canyon 7 - 0 - 0 - 3 — 10

Fountain Valley 0 - 14 - 34 - 0 — 48


C — Eckenrode 1 run (Hendrickson kick), 5:33.


FV — Alexander 10 pass from Banua (Olivares kick), 9:13.

FV — Alexander 13 pass from Banua (Olivares kick), 0:49.


FV — Alexander 73 pass from Banua (Olivares kick), 10:56.

FV — Hughes 22 pass from Banua (Olivares kick), 10:39.

FV — Regalado 15 run (Olivares kick), 7:14.

FV — Olivares 53 pass from Banua (kick failed), 5:47.

FV — Alexander 8 pass from Banua (Olivares kick), 2:00.


C — Hartfelder 30 FG, 4:48.


C — Eckenrode, 20-86, 1 TD.

FV — Regalado, 12-71, 1 TD; Banua, 7-68.


C — Rynders, 11-22-2-133-0.

FV — Banua, 17-23-0-285-6.


C — McClary, 2-45; Knupp, 5-21.

FV — Alexander, 6-138, 4 TDs; Olivares, 6-77, 1 TD.