Rancho Alamitos triumphs as Culbert passes first test


GARDEN GROVE — Rancho Alamitos got three touchdown passes from Blake Culbert and its defense was stout against the in a season-opening victory, 20-12, over Savanna in a nonleague game at Bolsa Grande High on Thursday.

“We showed a lot of experience for an inexperienced team,” Rancho Alamitos coach Mike Enright said. “We couldn’t win a 20-12 game a year ago.”

Before the game, Savanna coach Roger Whalen said his team was loose, and the Rebels looked comfortable on their first drive.

Savanna opened with an efficient three-minute drive that featured two fourth-down conversions by quarterback Nate Gonzalez. On the second conversion, Gonzalez hit Anthony Portugal from 15-yards out for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.

Rancho Alamitos looked to respond on the ensuing drive, but Savanna stripped the ball away on a screen pass and recovered the fumble at its own 21-yard line.

From there, though, it was all Rancho Alamitos.

Culbert opened the game by completing his first 11 passes, and the 11th was caught by Victor Lopez for a touchdown and a 7-6 lead.

Late in the half, a 40-yard burst by Justin Kanyavong got Rancho Alamitos deep into Savanna territory, and Culbert found Joe Navar in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard TD pass.

After an interception by Jonathan Silva midway though the third quarter, Culbert hit Navar deep behind the secondary for a 30-yard touchdown pass and a 20-6 lead for the Vaqueros.

Culbert finished 21 of 33 passing for 257 yards and three touchdowns.

Savanna closed within 20-12 when Angel Roberts burst up the middle for a 14-yard scoring run with 3:45 left.

Savanna kicked deep instead of onside after its score, and Rancho Alamitos ran out the clock and covered a punt to end the game.

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