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Garden Grove rolls, but QB Avila hurt
GARDEN GROVE – Garden Grove plowed through the biggest barrier standing in the way of a fourth straight Garden Grove League championship Friday night, but it came at what could be a heavy price.
Jordan Antunez ran for a season-high 265 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-3 romp over Rancho Alamitos, but Argonauts quarterback Danny Avila went down with a potentially serious knee injury in the third quarter.
Avila hurt his right knee as he threw an incomplete pass after escaping a sack and had to be carried off the field at Bolsa Grande High. The severity of the injury had not been determined by game's end, but it did not look good.
“It's pretty serious,” Antunez said. “I'm hoping my quarterback is OK, because he’s our best passing quarterback. He’s my best friend, too.”
The game, a rematch of last year's Southern Division final, was already over, for all intents – Garden Grove (5-2 overall, 2-0 GGL) extended a two-touchdown advantage in the first quarter to 34-3 by halftime – and Coach Ricardo Cepeda had Fitu Lupematisila, who rushed for 75 yards, taking snaps.
“Our guys were having trouble hearing him, so I pulled him out for a play and put (Avila) in ...,” Cepeda said. “We'll see if he's OK. It don't look good right now, but injuries happen. It's part of football.”
Antunez ran for two TDs in the first quarter, finishing off an Argonauts' opening drive in which he carried on every play, then sprinting 24 yards for a score after Derek Petrutis’ second interception of the night. The senior running back, who has 1,248 yards in six games this season, added a 67-yard TD run just before halftime.
“He's one of the best in Orange County, that's for sure,” Cepeda said. “We've just got to find different ways to get him the ball. You might see him at quarterback next week.”
Avila threw a touchdown pass to Malik Bilal a little more than three minutes into the second quarter – Garden Grove's first yardage not from Antunez – and Mario Moemoe returned an interception 33 yards for another score.
The Argonauts, ranked third in the Southern Division, drew 105 yards in penalties, and had two long touchdowns called back by holding penalties. Rancho Alamitos (5-2, 1-1), the division's No. 8 team, was held to 76 total yards and didn't have positive rushing numbers until the second half. The Vaqueros were inside Garden Grove's 45 just twice, with Emmanuel Cuevas booting a 32-yard field goal before Antunez's final touchdown.