Garden Grove's Anthony Herrera drives for yardage during the Argonauts' 20-13 nonleague victory over Laguna Hills on Friday night.

Sanchez, Mendoza push Garden Grove past Laguna Hills


LAGUNA HILLS – Dominik Sanchez didn’t have a carry until the fourth quarter, but made up for it in a hurry, helping the Garden Grove offense come to life at the perfect time.

Sanchez opened the fourth quarter with a 48-yard run that eventually led to a 3-yard touchdown run by Ruben Mendoza. On the Argonauts’ next possession, Sanchez again showed off his speed, this time on a 44-yard run and again Mendoza would follow with the finishing touch, another 3-yard touchdown run.

That’s just what Garden Grove needed to pull off a 20-13 road victory over Laguna Hills in a nonleague game Friday night.

“We’ve had some issues the last couple of weeks,” Garden Grove coach Ricardo Cepeda said. “The bye week, we dedicated ourselves to using all of our athletes, spread it out a little bit to loosen up everybody from blitzing us. We went a little Thunder and Lightning at the end. … That was kind of our plan, we were going to wear people down and put him in. Good little running back.”

Sanchez didn’t disappoint. He finished 108 yards on six carries, all in the fourth quarter.

“I just saw an open field and took my chances,” Sanchez said. “I did the best I could with those carries and made the best out of them. As soon as I heard I was getting called in, I took the chances.

Things were looking bleak for Sanchez and the Argonauts before the fourth quarter. Laguna Hills (3-2) opened the third quarter with a 16-play drive that resulted in a 22-yard field goal from Harrison Avila for a 13-7 lead.

On the next possession for Garden Grove (3-2), the Hawks forced a fumble that was recovered by Matthew Davisson.

Laguna Hills opened the fourth with a punt and the Garden Grove offense woke just in time, with Mendoza’s two touchdowns. The extra point following the first touchdown was blocked by Laguna Hills’ Logan Montgomery to keep the score tied at 13-13 with 8:04 left in the game.

Montgomery also had a 96-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first half, but Garden Grove (3-2) struggled to find consistency offensively in the second half.

“That’s a big physical football team,” Laguna Hills coach Mike Maceranka said of Garden Grove. “... If we don’t do things right at the beginning of the game, they’re going to beat you at end of the game. They wore us down, that’s the bottom line. If you keep them in the game until the fourth quarter, they’re going to win.”

The Argonauts will now turn their attention to begin Garden Grove League play, Thursday against Los Amigos.

Laguna Hills opens Sea View League Friday against Capistrano Valley.

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