Westminster's Josh Avila is brought down after a short gain during Friday night's nonleague game against host Garden Grove.

Garden Grove thwarts Westminster rally


GARDEN GROVE – Garden Grove moved the ball effectively, mostly through the air, to build a three-touchdown lead Friday night, but needed some late defensive heroics to hold off visiting Westminster, 28-21.

Lau Gauta stopped Westminster quarterback Noah Melbon for a loss at the Argonauts’ 12-yard line on a third-and-1 play, and Darice Tavita knocked down Melbon’s fourth-down pass with 28 seconds to play, and Garden Grove (2-0) spoiled the Lions’ opener.

Ruben Mendoza threw for 163 yards and two touchdowns and Joseph Camarillo ran for 65 yards and two scores as the Argonauts got to the end zone on three of their first four drives, then opened a 28-7 lead to start the second half. Mistakes cost them after that, with penalties killing two drives – and canceling a fourth-quarter Devon Rouse TD reception – and a fumble providing Westminster its chance at the end.

Josh Avila ran for 128 yards to lead the Lions, who marched 80 yards on their opening drive to go ahead on Melbon’s 9-yard pass to Isayah Anderson. Westminster then stopped Garden Grove on its first possession, but Adam Johnson raced 40 yards on a fake punt to the Lions 22, and Camarillo scored on a 9-yard run two plays later.

Garden Grove went ahead on a Mendoza-to-Johnson pass, and two possessions later, Mendoza hit Brandon Coleman from 25 yards out. Johnson, who caught seven passes for 98 yards, set up the score with a 34-yard catch-and-run. Camarillo scored his second touchdown three minutes into the second half.

Westminster pulled within a touchdown with 4:02 to play, with Jacob McGookin’s 2-yard push finishing a 71-yard drive, then the Lions recovered a fumble to get the ball back on Garden Grove’s 32 with 3:04 to go.

They got to to the 11 on six runs and a pass interference penalty before the Argonauts’ big defensive plays settled things.

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