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Foothill football: Wildcats take sigh of relief

Golden Valley loses second consecutive close battle with West Ranch

Posted: October 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Golden Valley’s quest for its first Foothill League football victory will have to wait at least one more week.

On Friday night at Canyon High School, West Ranch came from behind for the second year in a row to defeat the Grizzlies 28-22.

In a meeting that was billed as a matchup between Golden Valley running back Earl Johnson and West Ranch running back Jeff Coprich, who transferred from Golden Valley to West Ranch prior to the school year, the two didn’t disappoint.

Johnson got the better of Coprich in the stat sheet, finishing with 200 yards on 23 carries, including two rushing touchdowns with a fumble and one passing touchdown.

“Legit is the word we used many times,” said West Ranch head coach Sean O’Brien of Johnson. “He’s bewildering. How are we not tackling him? Is he magic? Is he disappearing?”

Coprich, though, wasn’t far behind, rushing for 193 yards on 21 carries with one touchdown and a successful two-point-conversion run.

In the end, though, it was Coprich’s Wildcats that got the better of the Grizzlies on the scoreboard.

But it didn’t look that way for most of the game.

“Every one of these games has got to be ‘get the defibrillator   out,’” O’Brien said. “Hats off to Golden Valley. They could not be more on the cusp. We didn’t play badly. They played their hearts out.”

The Grizzlies used an impressive first-half performance from Johnson, quarterback Reid Soliman, and an electrifying defensive performance to take a 22-14 lead into the locker room.

Soliman had one of the best games of his Golden Valley career, going 14-of-25 for 142 yards, managing the offense and avoiding mistakes.

In the second half, though, the Wildcats rebounded.

West Ranch quarterback Gerrit Mouw orchestrated a seven-play drive to start the third quarter, culminating in a 6-yard touchdown run with 8:06 remaining.

Mouw finished 6-of-9 for 128 yards.

Coprich put the ball in the end zone on the two-point attempt to pull the Wildcats even at 22-22.

The Grizzlies looked as though they would even the game up on the next drive, after West Ranch was called for a running-into-the-kicker penalty to give the Grizzlies a first down at the Grizzlies’ 49-yard line.

Five plays later, Johnson took a hand off and darted toward the right sideline before he fumbled the ball and the Wildcats recovered at their own 27-yard line.

“That’s titanic,” O’Brien said. “We could see it clearly. We saw clearly it was our ball. But weird things happen at the bottom of pile ups.”

Whatever happened at the bottom of that pile up, the Wildcats came up with the ball with 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

And in just three plays, Wildcats running back Zahr Lyttle rumbled 49 yards with 11:50 remaining in the game to give West Ranch a 28-22 lead, after a missed point-after attempt.

It was the Wildcats’ first lead since taking a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

Johnson added yet another highlight on the ensuing kickoff, returning the ball 69 yards to the West Ranch 28-yard line.

A 15-yard personal-foul penalty, though, killed the Grizzlies’ drive — their best chance to score in the fourth quarter.

The Grizzlies had one final opportunity to drive for the game-winning score when they received the ball at their own 20-yard line after Wildcats kicker Andrew Eichten missed a 26-yard field goal.

Golden Valley managed just one first down, though, and was forced to punt to the Wildcats who ran out the clock.

And so the quest for Golden Valley continues on.

“It’s nice to be peaking,” said Golden Valley head coach Robert Fisher. “Obviously, you want your best football to come in league. We can’t put all of our eggs in one basket. If we want to win a league game, we can’t focus on this game. Our next opponent is Saugus.”


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