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Bob McPhail 8:30 a.m., Aug. 17
Blocked field goal helps Mavericks edge Titans in defensive struggle
POWAY – La Costa Canyon abides by a simple philosophy this season: if its opponents don’t score, they won’t win. The fifth-ranked Mavericks put that motto into practice Friday night, stopping third-ranked Poway four times in the fourth quarter – including a blocked field goal – to preserve a narrow 10-9 victory.
“It’s very relieving to get this one done,” said La Costa Canyon senior lineman Scott Quessenberry. “It was a little too close, but it’s a very big one for us. They beat us last year and we weren’t going to let that happen again.”
La Costa Canyon (2-0) clung to a one-point lead after three quarters, and on the first play of the fourth quarter Poway senior defensive back Derek Babiash intercepted a deep pass to give the Titans the ball near midfield. Poway (1-1) drove into La Costa Canyon territory but was eventually stopped, setting up a Titans goal attempt.
“When they scored their earlier touchdown, we tried to rush right and I was shut down, so I told coach we should switch it up a little bit,” said La Costa Canyon junior linebacker Cameron Worland.
Worland broke through the left side of the line and laid out to block the 29-yard field goal attempt by Poway junior kicker Jason Diaz with 9:04 left. The block preserved the Mavericks’ lead and brought halt to a Poway’s second-half comeback attempt.
“I felt like I was a step short and that I needed to dive. I dove and I got it done,” Worland said. “My teammates kept telling me, ‘You’re going to make the play. You’re going to make the difference.’”
After the blocked kick, La Costa Canyon stopped Poway three times in the final nine minutes to preserve the victory. The Mavericks depended on a defense that features four senior captains to close out the win.
“It was a whole team effort on defense,” said La Costa Canyon head coach Sean Sovacool.
In the first half, La Costa Canyon built a 10-0 lead by controlling the line of scrimmage. Mavericks senior running back Deon Dickey broke a scoreless tie in the first quarter with a 13-yard touchdown run, and senior kicker Adam Allmaras made a 42-yard field goal with 22 seconds left in the second quarter to make it a 10-point game headed into halftime.
“We knew this game was going to be won up front in the trenches, and we had them good in the first half,” Quessenberry said. “We played great up front and our coaches were making great calls for our linebackers. We found ourselves in the backfield making a lot of plays.”
Poway got back into the game early in the third quarter with punt block by junior Brandon Lucas. The Titans started the ensuing drive from the La Costa Canyon 30-yard line and turned the short field into a touchdown – a 13-yard pass from junior quarterback Max Washam to senior tight end Alec Moreno with 5:31 left in the quarter.
“The second half was a really big fight and we came out on top,” Quessenberry said. “They manned up and we came right back and manned up.”
After Poway forced a La Costa Canyon punt on the following drive, the ball was snapped over Allmaras’ head and towards the end zone on the attempt. With his back to the play, Allmaras kicked the ball out of the end zone resulting in a safety that cut the Mavericks’ lead to 10-9 with 3:17 to play in the third quarter.
“He had practiced that,” said La Costa Canyon head coach Sean Sovacool. “We do situations and try to mimic those behaviors, and we’ve practiced that a couple of times.”
Poway was within one point of La Costa Canyon for the rest of the game, but couldn’t score against the staunch Mavericks’ defense. With the victory, La Costa Canyon proved that it is one of the top teams in the section and a strong contender in Division II.
“We’re a team that stays together,” Sovacool said. “We have a team with some resolve – you have to roll with the punches, and our guys rolled really well.”
Pictured: La Costa Canyon junior running back Noah May carries the ball outside with an unhelpful hand from Poway senior safety Conor Flanagan