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, MICHAEL KITADA, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
El Modena's, J.P. Walker, left, turns the corner and rambles for yards as Canyon's Hayden Greco, right, prepares for the tackle during their game on Friday.

El Modena doesn't let this one slip away

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

ORANGE – El Modena didn’t fade away this time around.

The Vanguards stared down the team that ended their season a year ago and showed no bend Friday night against Canyon, dominating the first three quarters in the 30-8 victory at El Modena High.

“We expected to win,” said El Modena running back Dillon Keefe, who rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown and was a key part of the suffocating defense.

El Modena (5-1) beat the Comanches during the regular season a year ago, only to surrender a 14-13 fourth-quarter lead in the CIF-SS Southern Division semifinals last November and lose, 35-20. Canyon would go on to win its first section title in 36 years.

The Vanguards made sure the score wasn’t close Friday night, taking a 17-0 lead into the half after totaling 195 yards from scrimmage and holding the Comanches to 85 while forcing two turnovers.

“That’s what we talk about, everyone getting to the football,” said El Modena first-year coach Matt Mitchell. “It showed tonight.”

On the fourth play of the game, Canyon (2-4) attempted a screen pass but the ball was tipped and ended up in the hands of outside linebacker Robert Laviguer, who also recovered a first-half fumble. The Vanguards converted on fourth-and-1 from Canyon’s 16 before Andrew Carvajal scored on a 5-yard run for a 7-0 lead.

El Modena’s defense continued to stiffen, holding the Comanches without a first down on their next five possessions while stretching the lead to 10-0 on a 37-yard field goal by Jordy Cruz.

The Vanguards got the ball back at their 35 with 3:10 left in the first half and converted three straight third-down situations before quarterback A.J. Esperanza found wide receiver J.P. Walker over the middle for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left.

El Modena received the second-half kickoff and maintained the momentum, using 12 run plays to move the ball 81 yards and take a 23-0 lead on a 10-yard touchdown run by Carvajal.

Carvajal finished with 78 rushing yards on 16 carries and Esperanza had 56 yards on nine carries while also passing for 82 yards and a touchdown.

The Vanguards takes to the road to play Foothill next week.


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