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KYUSUNG GONG, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Foothill's Preston Moebius, right, leaps into the end zone for a touchdown during a Crestview League game against host Yorba Linda on Friday.

Sowder leads Yorba Linda past Foothill to a berth in playoffs

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

YORBA LINDA – Zack Sowder wasn’t comfortable. Not with 16-plus minutes remaining in a defacto play-in game for the No. 2 playoff berth out of the Crestview League. Not with those 16-plus minutes possibly being the end of his high school career.

“Three isn’t enough!” the wide receiver shouted to his Yorba Linda teammates, referencing the lead he had just given the Mustangs over visiting Foothill.

And it wasn’t. Foothill quarterback Preston Moebius rumbled in from 11 yards barely a minute into the fourth quarter, giving the Knights a four-point lead.

As it had all night, Yorba Linda went right back to Sowder, who hauled in a 13-yard touchdown – his third of the night – to flip the lead back in Yorba Linda’s favor. And this time, three points was enough, as the Mustangs (4-5-1, 2-1) held on for a 31-21 playoff-clinching win at Shapell Stadium.

Had Sowder done his homework on the Knights (6-4, 1-2), he would have known he had little reason to worry. Prior to Friday, Foothill had lost three games, each coming when it allowed more than 12 points. Sowder’s touchdown in the third quarter put Yorba Linda ahead, 17-14.

The largest momentum swing did not come from Sowder, but from the most unlikely of places: the defensive line. Before Sowder had a chance to haul in the second of his three scores, he needed the defense to get the ball back. Enter Troy Stiefel, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound tackle.

Moebius was under intense pressure and attempted to throw a pass amid several Mustang defenders. It went directly into the mass of linemen, where it disappeared before Stiefel was headed the other way, ball in hand.

“No way,” was the unanimous phrase used by the majority of the Mustangs on the sidelines.

Two plays later, Sowder was in the end zone.

Moebius played admirably, finishing with 215 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Of the Knights’ 275 yards in the second half, he was responsible for 222 of them, including an 89-yard touchdown on the first play of the third quarter, and the 11-yard touchdown that gave Foothill the lead in the fourth quarter.


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