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, BILL ALKOFER, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Woodbridge's Francisco Chavez isn't able to bring down El Modena's Dillon Keefe in the first quarter of Thursday night's game in Orange. El Modena won, 36-25.

El Modena rallies in final minutes to beat Woodbridge

STAFF WRITER

ORANGE – A.J. Esperanza’s pass to J.P. Walker with 2:43 left in the fourth quarter gave El Modena the lead and Dillon Keefe’s short touchdown run in the final minute completed the Vanguards’ 36-25 win over Woodbridge in a nonleague game Thursday at El Modena High.

It was the season opener for El Modena. It also was a victorious head coaching debut for El Modena coach Matt Mitchell.

Mitchell figured afterward it was a typical opening night.

“Early on, we had some nervousness and I think it showed,” said Mitchell, who had been the Vanguards’ offensive coordinator before his promotion to head coach. “That’s that ups and downs of a game, and I think we learned from that.”

Woodbridge lost to Cypress last week, 20-14.

Woodbridge (0-2) took a 25-22 lead with 5:53 left in the game on a 27-yard field goal by Brendan Satchfield.

El Modena had scored three touchdowns in the first half, but the Vanguards offense was stuck in the mud through most of the second half. Through five second-half possessions, El Modena produced only 24 yards on 16 plays.

After Satchfield’s field goal, El Modena finally put together a drive. The Vanguards maneuvered from their 25-yard line to Woodbridge’s 25 on five Keefe runs and a 14-yard run by Andrew Carvajal. On first down there, Esperanza and Walker connected for the go-ahead touchdown pass.

El Modena’s Christian Lopez made an interception on Woodbridge’s first play after the Esperanza-Walker touchdown, putting the Vanguards at the Warriors’ 28 with 2:23 to go. El Modena deleted two minutes from the clock and got the Keefe touchdown to secure the victory.

Keefe gave El Modena a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on an 18-yard fumble return. Woodbridge tied it in that quarter when Karstn Graves turned a screen pass from Spencer Weston into an 80-yard touchdown.

The Warriors, rotating three quarterbacks Thursday, took a 14-7 lead on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Chase Bradley to Nate Ledoux, who made a diving catch at the back of the end zone.

El Modena went ahead, 15-14, on a Carvahal 7-yard touchdown run and Keefe’s 2-point conversion run. Esperanza’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Lopez with 1:03 left in the half pushed the El Modena lead to 22-14.

After a scoreless third quarter, Woodbridge tied it, 22-22, on Connor McBride’s 4-yard touchdown run and a 2-point conversion pass from Nick Nash to Bradley.

Contact the writer: sfryer@scng.com


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