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Emotions flow as Marina halts 60-game league losing streak
WESTMINSTER – Marina's first Sunset League football victory in nearly 12 years was a simple equation. The Vikings moved the ball rather easily and shut down Fountain Valley for all but a handful of plays, romping to an emotional 35-7 victory in Thursday night's season finale at Westminster High.
Marina (4-6, 1-4), just a week after defensive line coach Solo Tafua succumbed to brain cancer, emphatically ended a 60-game league losing streak that began with a loss to the Barons on Nov. 12, 2004.
There were plenty of heroes: Ian Green passed for 186 yards and three touchdowns, Cooper Malerstein ran for 143 yards on 26 carries, Noah Holmes intercepted two passes and caught a TD throw, Blaine Riederich accompanied a masterful defensive performance with 115 total yards (72 of them on three runs) and three scores, and offensive tackle Jake Arnold, with his first carries of the season, set up the Vikings’ first touchdown and bulled in for a 21-7 lead 9 seconds before halftime, both on fourth down.
Marina coach Jeff Turley, holding back tears, called it “the most sentimental” victory of his career.
“I'm trying to keep it together,” he said. “This is huge for the school. It's huge for these kids, through everything we've endured this season. For us to be able to pull this off a week after a coach dying is awesome.”
Fountain Valley (1-9, 0-5), held to minus-21 yards rushing and six first downs, gained most of its 138 yards on two pass plays – Andrew Ross connecting with Angel Hernandez for 48 yards, then hitting a streaking Kishaun Sykes on a 42-yard score -- to cut its deficit to 14-7.
Marina, stopped at the Barons' 18 on its next drive, scored its third TD after Holmes returned his second interception 42 yards to the 10 with 26 seconds to go in the first half.
Marina had scored more than 30 points just three times during the losing streak and never more than 35. Every foe had scored at least two touchdowns, and 39 of them had put up at least 40 points.
“Just winning it for my seniors and Coach Solo,” said Riederich, a junior. “It's an amazing feeling to do this for them. It's a huge step for Marina. I think next year we're going to come out and just do it again, and hopefully better.”