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CHRISTINE COTTER, FOR THE REGISTER
Foothill's Jake Dupre scores on a long run in the second half of a second-round playoff game against Cypress on Saturday. Foothill rallied in the fourth quarter to win the game, 34-24, and advance to the Southwest Division semifinals.

Foothill strikes late to shock Cypress

OCVARSITY.COM

TUSTIN – Foothill completed the stunning comeback this time.

Two weeks removed from losing to Brea Olinda on the final play, the Knights erupted for 14 points in the final 2 1/2 minutes to rally past Cypress, 34-24, in a CIF-SS Southwest Division second-round playoff game Saturday night at Tustin High.

Foothill wide receiver Jake Dupre caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Jack Gilchrist with 2:28 left for the go-ahead score, and Gilchrist scored on a 3-yard run 1:04 later to cap the surge.

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The Knights (8-4) trailed, 14-0, with 30 seconds left in the first half and 21-7 with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

"No quit in the Knights," Foothill coach Doug Case said. "The kids have showed a lot of character all year long. We've struggled at times but we've never lost two games in a row.

"We came back each week and got better and learned from our mistakes. ... It feels great (tonight)."

Foothill will play longtime city rival Tustin in the semifinals Friday. The Tillers beat Foothill, 27-14, on Sept. 2. The schools have never met this deep in the playoffs.

Case said the Knights will have to play the "game of our lives" against Tustin but added, "that's what you're supposed to do in the semifinals."

Cypress (9-3) led, 21-20, when it drove inside the Foothill 10 midway through the fourth period. But Foothill's defense held Cypress to a 25-yard field goal by Jesse Dages with 7:46 left.

The Knights came back with a 73-yard scoring drive. Dupre kept it alive with a 24-yard reception along the sideline on a third-and-14 from the Foothill 49 with 3:05 left. Dupre gave Foothill its first lead about 30 seconds later.

On the ensuing possession, linebacker Andrew Fink recorded a sack on the first play. Linebacker Austin Anderson recovered the ball at the Cypress 4 with 2:14 left. Two plays later, Gilchrist scored on a 3-yard run as Foothill took a 34-24 lead.

Gilchrist completed 3 of 13 passes in the first half but connected on his last four throws of the fourth.

Foothill's defense played well. The Knights held explosive Cypress running back Vincent "Bug" Rivera to 58 yards on 16 carries.

The senior had rushed for more than 300 yards in each of his past two games. His longest run against Foothill was a 14-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave Cypress a 21-7 lead with 7:28 left.

Foothill also scored quickly in bunches to close the third quarter. Gilchrist tossed a 23-yard touchdown to Mark Fausto with 1:37 left in the frame and Tanner Bryant broke a 59-yard touchdown run with seven seconds left in the third.

The Knights missed the extra point, so Cypress led, 21-20, going into the fourth quarter.

Bryant finished with 134 yards rushing on 14 carries.

Cypress opened an early lead thanks to its defense. Defensive back Bobby Thompson returned an interception on Foothill's third play 42 yards for a touchdown as the Centurions took a 7-0 lead 9:14 left in the first.

The Centurions’ offense put together one of its best drives in the middle of the second. Jake Brito capped a 65-yard march by taking a screen pass from quarterback Joseph Anderson and running in from 29 yards. Dages added the extra point and Cypress led, 14-0, with 3:10 left in the half.

Cypress’ defense later forced Foothill to turn the ball over on downs at the Centurions 32 with 54 seconds left in half. But on the next play, Foothill linebacker Brian Fox recovered a fumble at the 32. Gilchrist capitalized with a 4-yard touchdown with 21 seconds left in the half, cutting Cypress’ lead to 14-7.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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