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Orange Lutheran unable to catch Rancho Cucamonga
RANCHO CUCAMONGA – There weren’t expected to be a whole lot of blowouts in the opening round of the CIF-SS playoffs, at least not in Division 1 where the elite teams were all squaring off.
Rancho Cucamonga coach Nick Baiz even tried drilling into his players’ heads that they were the underdog despite coming in unbeaten.
The Cougars were indeed tested for one of the few times this season but still prevailed 27-7 over Orange Lutheran on Friday night at Cougars Stadium.
Rancho Cucamonga (11-0) advances to the second round at Mission Viejo (11-0), which handily defeated Servite.
Orange Lutheran (5-6) entered with a .500 record but comes out of the Trinity League which advanced every one of its teams to the playoffs.
“Coach told us all week we were the underdogs because of the league they play in,” Cougars senior defensive standout Sam Malupo said. “We knew they were going to be a good team. We just wanted to play hard and show them what we can do.”
The game wasn’t decided until midway through the fourth quarter. Down 20-7, Orange Lutheran failed on a fourth and goal from the Rancho 7 with a Ryan Hilinski pass broken up by David Farmer.
The Lancers’ next possession ended with a failed pass as well, this time with 4:45 to play.
Rancho put the game away moments later when Jaylon Redd broke a 49-yard scoring play for the final margin of victory.
Redd was kept in check much of the night but the big run on his last carry boosted him to 95 yards on the night.
“We didn’t move the ball as well as we have but this is a playoff game and they’re a good team,” Baiz said. “Teams have been keying on him (Redd) all season but we knew sooner or later he was going to pop one.”
Orange Lutheran dominated in the early going. It moved the ball down to the Rancho 20 on its opening possession only to fail on a fourth and 5.
But the Lancers did strike on their second possession with Michael Arredondo plunging in from the 2 in the closing seconds of the first quarter.
It didn’t take long for the Cougars to even the score. Rancho went 80 yards on eight plays with Nick Acosta escaping a rush and getting off a 24 yard strike to Thomas Graham. The drive featured a couple of big passing plays with Acosta throwing to Jaivian Lofton for 26 yards, then for 24 yards to Redd three plays later.
The go-ahead score came in the closing moments of the second quarter, Orange Lutheran’s Dominik Austin ran for 7 yards but fumbled at the Rancho 3. The ball was scooped up by Sam Malupo who ran it back to the 26 with 2:19 left in the quarter.
The 11-play drive ended with a 5-yard run by Redd with 38 seconds left that put the home team ahead for the first time 14-7.
The drive was highlighted by a fake punt as Zen Gonzalez went for 18 yards on a fourth-and 10 at the 47.
“The fumble recovery and the fake punt were huge,” Baaz said. “That score put us and gave us the momentum and we never really lost it.”
Redd’s second of three scores came with 10:06 left in the game from 2 yards out and made it 20-7, with a bad snap thwarting the PAT try.
The teams ended up with similar offensive numbers. Orange Lutheran tallied 144 yards on the ground and 135 through the air led by Hilinksi, younger brother of former Upland quarterback Tyler Hilinksi.
Rancho managed 127 yards on the ground and 143 passing.