University's Sam Winder breaks loose early in the first quarter during the Trojans' 7-6 win over visiting Laguna Hills.

Battle of defenses goes to University


IRVINE – University's defense held strong in the final two minutes and helped the Trojans hold on for a 7-6 win over No. 24 Laguna Hills in the season opener for both teams Friday night at University High.

Down, 7-6, Laguna Hills gained possession of the ball on the University 13-yard line after the Trojans sailed a snap over punter Zach Goodfriend's head with 1:51 to play in the game.

The University defense came up with a stop on a run play for a 1-yard loss and a Laguna Hills holding penalty moved the ball back to the 22.

Then University corner back Darrius Outland knocked away two straight pass attempts by Laguna Hills quarterback Kyle Paskwietz, including one on second down that was headed for Logan Montgomery in the end zone.

Laguna Hills lined up for a 40-yard field goal with 41 seconds remaining to try and win the game, but the snap was off line and Harrison Avila had to rush his kick, which went wide left.

"Darrius and Jalen Robertson were both super at corner and our free safety, Anthony Medina, made some big plays and hits," University coach Mark Cunningham said. "I was very pleased with everyone on the defense. And all of our kids played with a lot of heart."

Outland, who has already committed to Fresno State, transferred to Villa Park at the end of last school year, but decided to return to University after all for his senior season.

"It is big having him with us," Cunningham said.

Both teams sputtered offensively with Laguna Hills finishing with just 123 yards and University ending with 145 yards.

The Trojans took the lead for good, 7-6, just before the end of the first half after a 10-play, 85-yard drive that was capped by a nifty 2-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Thomas Keeling.

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