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Garden Grove's Antunez keys win with 376 yards
SANTA ANA – When asked what was the biggest factor in Friday’s 24-19 loss to Garden Grove, Santa Ana Valley coach Larry Mohr simply said “Number 28.”
The number 28 he was referring to was Garden Grove senior running back Jordan Antunez, who rushed for a school-record 376 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries to lift the Argonauts to a hard-fought victory in a CIF-Southern Section Southern Division quarterfinal game at Santa Ana Valley High.
With the victory, Garden Grove advances to next week’s semifinals, where it will face Brea Olinda at home. Brea Olinda advanced by defeating Godinez, 49-28, Friday.
Antunez, who rushed for 224 yards in last week’s victory over El Dorado, was called upon early and often, leading the Argonauts (10-2) to touchdown drives on their first two possessions of the game. Of their first 12 plays, 10 were rushes by Antunez.
“(Antunez) was outstanding,” said Mohr. “He’s the best running back we’ve faced all year.”
The 5-8 senior carried the ball on each of Garden Grove’s first seven plays, capping off the 75-yard game-opening drive with a 26-yard touchdown run. He added a 42-yard scoring run minutes later to lift the Argonauts to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
“We gave the ball to our best player,” said Argonauts coach Ricardo Cepeda, “He’s probably one of the best players in Orange County.”
But Garden Grove couldn’t put Santa Ana Valley away, and the Falcons settled down and slowly crept back into the game.
Down 14-0 at halftime, the Falcons (5-6-1) scored on their third play of the second half, a 74-yard touchdown reception by Malcom Wesley, who had a huge game with 15 receptions for 224 yards.
A 35-yard field goal by Derek Ayala gave Garden Grove a 17-6 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Santa Ana Valley responded on its next possession when Chris Hernandez barreled into the end zone from 3 yards. The 2-point conversion attempt failed.
Garden Grove tallied its final score on a 15-yard touchdown reception by Malik Bilal with 5:40 left in the game. But again, the Falcons responded, scoring on their next possession on a 31-yard reception by Wesley.
The Falcons had one last shot with 1:25 left, but TJ Taufefee intercepted a Jason Wilkinson pass, ending the threat.
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