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MIKE GREENE, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Canyon's Ethan Rodgers, left, rushes with the ball as Los Alamitos' Damien Chavez pursues during a varsity football game on Friday at El Modena.

Los Al collects 'ugly' victory over Canyon

OCVARSITY.COM

ORANGE – Los Alamitos didn't take advantage of many opportunities against Canyon on Friday night, but it cashed in on one and that was enough.

A 9-yard, first-quarter touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Wendell to Dashawn Gordon was all the offense the Griffins needed in a 7-0 nonleague win over Canyon at El Modena High.

Despite positive field position throughout, Los Al (3-0) only gained 148 yards on offense against the Comanches (1-3) and turned the ball over on downs twice inside the Canyon 15-yard line.

Wendell struggled with accuracy and threw for 74 yards on 5 of 20 completions largely due to the fact that he was hit and knocked down by the Comanches' defense on 12 of those pass plays.

“We played as poor an offensive game as we could play. Thank God we had the defense,” said Los Alamitos coach John Barnes. “(Wendell) spent a lot of time on his butt. It's been a regular habit, and if we don't get it fixed, it will be ugly.”

That Griffins defense forced Canyon to turn the ball over on downs four times in the second half, all around midfield. The Comanches outgained the Griffins (197 to 148), but could not get past the Los Al 40 in the second half.

The final Los Al stop came with 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter, when senior defensive lineman Mike Hayden broke through the Canyon line and knocked down a pass from quarterback Andrew Derlin on fourth down. Hayden also made the tackle to turn the ball over on a fourth-down play to end Canyon's first drive of the second half.

Derlin, normally a running back, was pushed into the role of quarterback due to an ankle injury to standout starter Corey Elsasser. Canyon's second- and third-string quarterbacks were also injured during the week.

Derlin outgained the entire Los Al team on his own, with 32 yards through the air on 5-of-21 passing and a game-high 138 yards rushing on 22 carries.

“I can't compliment Andrew Derlin more,” said Canyon coach Jim Kunau. “He hadn't played quarterback all year and we lost all of our quarterbacks this week. So, he steps in and I'm so proud of the effort he gave tonight.”

Even with Derlin's contribution, the Comanches could not get the ball into scoring position, except for their final drive of the first half. Canyon drove from its own 15 to the Los Al 19, but missed a 38-yard field to end the second quarter.

“You come here to win,” Barnes said. “A month from now, nobody is going to remember this. I've coached (over 400) football games and you come to win.”

Contact the writer: jbalan@ocregister.com


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