Katella rolls behind Hurtado and Vasquez
PICO RIVERA – A pair of touchdown passes from Joseph Vasquez to Nicolas Hurtado and a defense that limited El Rancho to 148 yards helped Katella remain unbeaten with a 29-7 victory in a nonleague game Friday night at El Rancho High.
The Knights (5-0), ranked fifth in this week’s CIF-SS Southern Division coaches’ poll, gained just 263 yards in its final test before next week’s Orange League opener, but El Rancho (0-5), the defending league champion, added to its woes with seven fumbles and two muffed kick returns.
After each team missed field-goal attempts in the first quarter, Katella used a 36-yard pass from Vasquez to James Faitasia and a 28-yard run by Francisco Pineda to reach the red zone, where Randy Forbush’s 2-yard touchdown run gave the Knights a 6-0 lead.
Katella pushed El Rancho deep into its own territory and took possession at the Dons’ 35-yard line late in the half. Vasquez then connected with Hurtado on an 8-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds left, and a two-point conversion run by Sebastian Damasco made it 14-0.
The opening kickoff of the second half saw Axel Sanchez recover a fumble at the El Rancho 19. Pineda scored on the first play following the turnover and the Knights pushed their lead to 21-0 just 10 seconds into the third quarter.
A bad snap in punt formation led to a safety for the Knights two minutes later, then Vasquez found Hurtado for a 31-yard scoring pass to complete Katella’s scoring with 3:03 left in the third quarter.
El Rancho avoided the shutout when an errant snap to Vasquez resulted in a 58-yard fumble return for Rolando Garcia. It was Katella’s only fumble of the game.