El Modena's AJ Esperanza runs down the sideline during the first quarter against Kennedy's Cameron Wallace.

Keefe does it all to lead El Modena past Kennedy


ANAHEIM – Dillon Keefe found multiple ways to spark El Modena in the second half Thursday.

The Vanguards needed every one and plenty of help to hold off Kennedy and wide receiver/cornerback Chris Rodriguez.

Keefe returned the second-half kickoff 74 yards to set up a score and later blocked a field goal and rushed for two touchdowns to rally El Modena past Kennedy, 28-21, at Western.

“He can do it all,” El Modena coach Matt Mitchell said of Keefe, who rushed for 156 yards and three TDs on 21 carries and also played linebacker. “That’s our expectations for him every week.”

El Modena (2-0), ranked No. 1 in Division 8, struggled to slow down Kennedy’s duo of quarterback Christian Rodriguez and wide receiver Chris Rodriguez, but sealed its second consecutive comeback victory with an interception by Juan Hernandez at his 10-yard line on a fourth-and-1 with 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Hernandez helped El Modena survive a late fumble recovered by Kennedy linebacker Marco Molina at the Vanguards’ 45 with 2:17 left. Molina also had an interception.

Kennedy (1-2) led, 14-7, at halftime, but Andrew Carvajal tied the score on a 21-yard TD run.

Keefe later blocked a 19-yard field goal attempt with 3:08 left in third. He lowered his shoulder on a bruising 22-yard TD run with 45 seconds left in the quarter for the go-ahead score after a 55-yard reception by Carvajal from quarterback A.J. Esperanza.

Keefe gave El Modena a 28-14 lead by racing 53 yards untouched for a TD run on third-and-2 with 7:09 left in the fourth.

“I want our team to win and hope that they see that we can win,” Keefe said.

Kennedy trimmed El Modena’s lead to 28-21 on a 21-yard TD pass with 3:43 left between the Rodriguez tandem, who aren’t related.

Chris Rodriguez finished with six catches for 204 yards, including touchdowns of 75 and 80 yards, and added an interception. Christian Rodriguez passed for 309 yards.

Kennedy led at halftime, 14-7, after the duo connected for an 80-yard touchdown play with 4:05 left in the second quarter.

On the second-and-10 play, Chris Rodriguez beat single-man coverage with a reception at the 50 and raced into the end zone.

The strike arrived two plays after an interception in the end zone by linebacker Marco Molina, who ran stride-for-stride covering Keefe.

Christian Rodriguez threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Chris Rodriguez on the first play of the second quarter as Kennedy tied the score, 7-7. On third-and-5, Chris Rodriguez made a grab near midfield and sprinted into the end zone.

Christian Rodriguez didn’t have any passing yards in the first quarter but finished the half 5 for 9 for 192 yards.

El Modena capitalized on a fumble by Kennedy to open a 7-0 late in the opening quarter. Keefe scored on a 2-yard TD run after a defensive lineman Michael Fuentes recovered a low snap at the Kennedy 3.

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