Culbert passes Rancho Alamitos past La Quinta


GARDEN GROVE – Blake Culbert threw four touchdown passes – two each to wide receivers Joe Navar and Victor Lopez – and Rancho Alamitos found its groove in the second quarter, motoring to a 35-21 victory Thursday against La Quinta the Garden Grove League opener at Garden Grove.

Culbert finished 11 for 26 for 283 yards for the Vaqueros (5-1, 1-0). Navar caught six passes for 122 yards and Lopez finished with four catches for 145 yards.

La Quinta (2-4, 0-1) showed some resiliency early and trailed by seven points at the half. The Aztecs had the ball to start the third quarter and put together a nice drive behind its run game, but Navar fell on a fumbled handoff near midfield.

Culbert then found Lopez on a curl route and he beat two defenders after the catch for a 50-yard touchdown. Miguel Rosales added a 1-yard touchdown run later in the quarter to make it 35-14.

Navar and Culbert showed their chemistry right from the start, as Culbert threw to Navar along the line of scrimmage on the first play of the game and Navar raced untouched for a 65-yard touchdown.

The Vaqueros found the going rough for a stretch, however. Their next three drives did not produce a first down, allowing La Quinta to go ahead, 14-7, when Nathan Medellin intercepted a pass on the first play of the second quarter and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown.

Rancho Alamitos then clamped down on defense, and Culbert twice found Lopez for long gains down the right sideline. Navar capped one of those drives with a 10-yard touchdown reception and Lopez finished the other with an 11-yard scoring catch, giving the Vaqueros a 21-14 lead with 28 seconds left in the first half.

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