Rebels strike Lightning quickly

LOS ANGELES — It didn't take long in Saturday's nonleague matinee at Occidental College to see that the Flintridge Prep football team's power running offense was in for a big day versus visiting Sage Hill, which allowed the Rebels three scoring runs of at least 40 yards before the end of the first quarter.

The Rebels' didn't fare too poorly on the other side of the ball either, as Prep's six offensive touchdowns and 393 yards of total offense were complemented by a defensive effort that created six turnovers, including an interception return for a score, in a 48-8 romp that saw a running clock with over four minutes to play in the third period.

"We wanted to come out physical, we wanted to hit them first," said Rebels running back Stefan Smith, who led the charge with 179 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries.

It only took three plays on the Rebels' opening drive for them to hit the Lightning with a 40-yard touchdown run over the right side from Kurt Kozacik, who finished with 88 yards in 11 carries.

Prep's rugged line continued to open cavernous holes between right guard and tackle, with Smith taking a handoff 46 yards untouched to the end zone for a 12-0 lead with 2:48 left in the first quarter.

"Our run attack has been wonderful this year," said Prep Coach Antonio Harrison, whose team improved to 2-3. "From tackle to wing back, they're just crushing other team's [offensive] lines."

No one got a finger on Smith on his next carry either, as he took the first play of the Rebels' next possession 62 yards through a wide-open B-gap for an 18-0 lead with 1:29 left in the first.

"I didn't have to break a tackle today," Smith said. "The line did a great job. We just practiced all week, repetition and repetition, that's what happens when it works right."

With a substantial lead already, Prep made things even tougher for the Lighting (0-6) in the second quarter, when the defense began to cause havoc.

Smith intercepted a pass form Sage Hill quarterback CJ McCord in the end zone and returned it to the Rebels' four-yard line. After digging their way out to their own 37-yard line, the Rebels lost a fumble to the Lightning. But they got the ball right back three plays later on a Kozacik interception that was returned 61 yards all the way to the Lightning seven-yard line, setting up Smith's third score of the day on a seven-yard run at the 6:28 mark.

"If you can get three or four turnovers a game, you're going to win the game," Harrison said. "That's the way football goes."

Prep, which also recovered a Sage Hill fumble when Chadd Cosse stripped McCord and Tucker Chemel scooped up the loose ball with a 1:00 to go in the first half, continued to make big plays on defense in the second half.

After opening the third quarter with a 61-yard scoring drive capped by Kory Hamane's twisting 17-yard run for a 34-0 lead, Derek Wong intercepted McCord on the Lightning's next possession.

The Rebels gave up another fumble at the Sage Hill 22-yard line moments later, but once again Prep got it right back when Kyle Law tipped a McCord pass in the air to himself and raced untouched to the end zone for a 42-0 lead with 4:24 left in the third.

Prep added another touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 52-yard run by junior varsity call-up Elliot Witter, one of several subs who finished off the win while the Rebels' starters relaxed on the sideline.

"I'm real proud of everything these guys did today," Harrison said. "I'm especially proud of these young guys who came in and handled themselves well."

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