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Katella's James Faitasia was able to tip the ball and elude two defenders to score near the end of the second quarter against Westminster. (PHOTO BY MICHAEL KITADA, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER)

Katella survives Westminster rally

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

ANAHEIM – Quarterback Nathan Arrington and wide receiver James Faitasia completed what may have been their most important pass play of the season, converting the biggest third-down situation of the season as Katella held on to a 47-39 victory over Westminster in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 11 playoffs Friday night at Glover Stadium.

After three penalties put the Knights (11-0) at their own 20-yard line, they were faced with a third-and-22 situation. Arrington found Faitasia, who outfought two Westminster defenders for the ball, giving the Knights a first down and the opening-round win.

The two teams were not strangers. Katella, the top seed in Division 11, posted a 42-21 victory over the Lions on the road two months ago. When Rafael Martinez scored on a 4-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, it appeared the Knights would coast to another win over the Lions.

However, Westminster (5-6) responded, scoring 15 consecutive points to bring the score to 47-39 with 7:21 remaining in the contest.

After the game, Knights coach Fed DiPalma breathed a huge sign of relief alongside his players, assistant coaches and fans.

“The bottom line is, we're moving on,” said DiPalma.

Katella finished with 436 yards offense, led by Arrington, who was 12 of 18 for 183 yards passing and two touchdowns, both to Faitasia, who caught seven passes for 135 yards. Francisco Pineda added 183 yards with two touchdowns on 19 carries. He also broke up four passes and returned an interception 76 to set up the Knights' final touchdown..

Josh Avila rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries for the Lions. Westminster accumulated 327 yards of offense, with QB Noah Melbom hitting on 13 of 28 for 165 yards.

A 5-yard scoring run by Pineda with just over three minutes remaining in the first half sent the Knights to a 34-17 advantage. The Lions rebounded by marching 76 yards on six plays, aided by two Katella defensive penalties. Jacob McGookin scored on a 2-yard run with 25 seconds left.

After a combined 58 points in the game's first 24 minutes, it would be a while before Katella reached the end zone again. Pineda scored from eight yards out with 10 second left in the third quarter, followed by his interception and the TD from Martinez.

The Knights survived despite committing 15 penalties for 133 yards.


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