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Dinh rallies Westminster past Garden Grove
WESTMINSTER – Matt Dinh drove Westminster on a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives, and the Lions’ defense stiffened after a tough first quarter as they stunned visiting Garden Grove, the defending champion and top-ranked team in the CIF-SS Southern Division, in a season-opening showdown Friday night.
Dinh’s 5-yard touchdown run gave Westminster a 27-26 advantage with 4:07 to play, and the Lions, No. 5 in the Southern Division poll, stopped the Argonauts at midfield with a little more than a minute to go to claim their first victory in their last eight tries in the annual series.
Dinh threw for 181 yards and a touchdown and ran for 28 yards as Westminster twice rallied from 12-point deficits, the second in the fourth quarter.
The Lions drove 65 yards for the winning score, with Dinh hitting Isayah Anderson for an 18-yard gain on fourth-and 4, and Michael Gurrola running for gains of 10 and 9 yards to set up Dinh’s final scamper.
“That’s the kind of team we want to have, hopefully, that we can bounce back from those kind of things,” Westminster coach Ted McMillen said. “(This was) huge. Just huge for the heart. Our kids showed they could battle.
“The comeback, the effort, was the main thing. The fact that we won on the scoreboard was awesome, too, but the effort was (most important).”
All-CIF running back Jordan Antunez rushed for 262 yards and four touchdowns – and saw a 50-yard gain wiped away by a holding penalty – for Garden Grove. The Argonauts marched to a quick score on their opening drive, went ahead again on a 65-yard Antunez run, added another score after finding superb field position following a bad snap on a Lions punt, then took a 26-14 lead into the fourth quarter following a 73-yard Antunez touchdown run.
Anderson ran for two touchdowns, including a 7-yarder to cap a 72-yard drive a little more than two minutes into the fourth quarter to pull the Lions within five points.
Garden Grove marched 65 yards on its first possession – Antunez covering 47 of that, including the 23-yard touchdown run – but failed on the conversion after a bad snap.
Westminster answered on Anderson’s run two plays after a 19-yard Dinh-to-Brandon Cox pass was accompanied by a roughing-the-passer penalty that put the ball on the 11, but Antunez went 65 yards on the Argonauts’ next play from scrimmage, then made it 19-7 – Derek Ayala’s extra point was wide – with a 3-yard run two plays after the bad snap gave them the ball on the 5.