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KEVIN SULLIVAN, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Villa Park's Meki Tafuna leaps over Foothill's Julian Moss during the first half of their football game at Fred Kelly Stadium Friday night.

Villa Park rallies past No. 10 Foothill

OCVARSITY.COM

ORANGE – Villa Park senior linebacker Grant Klasna summed up the first half-performance with one simple word: embarrassing.

There was a much better feeling about the second half for the 12th-ranked Spartans.

Villa Park (5-1, 2-0) overcame a penalty-filled first half and an 11-point first-half deficit to rally past 10th-ranked Foothill, 25-21, in a Century League game Friday night at El Modena High.

Villa Park has won the previous two Century titles.

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Senior running back Meki Tafuna scored a pair of touchdowns, the last from the 1-yard line with 7:52, that proved to be the winning score.

Foothill (5-2, 2-1) had taken a 21-18 lead on a 34-yard field goal by Sean Pihl.

"We talked about our character and what we worked hard for," Villa Park coach Dusan Ancich said. "It wasn't worth it, the choices that we were making.

"We were able to overcome that and the team played smart. I thought, even if I was playing, I would have been frustrated with how the game was being played.

"I thought it showed a lot of maturity and leadership from our team and composure ... I'm proud of this team."

Foothill had two possessions to try for the go-ahead touchdown.

The final Foothill possession ended when Klasna, dropping back in coverage, broke up a pass that was headed for an open Foothill receiver in the end zone.

"They motioned out into an empty set ... it was instinct, I dropped and I was just having fun," Klasna said. "I was the outside backer, and I was supposed to get the running back and I just went for it."

Klasna's play helped the Spartans forget about their first-half problems. Villa Park didn't go many consecutive plays without being penalized for something.

The Spartans were called for 11 penalties in the first half, including six for either personal foul or unsportsmanlike penalties.

"I had to step back and regain my composure myself and get all of our coaches on the same page and move forward," Ancich said.

However, thanks to a 44-yard field goal by Jason Sanders, Villa Park only trailed, 18-10, at halftime.

"We came out of the locker room composed and calm and that was obvious in the second half," Klasna said.

Klasna finished with three sacks. Lenny Cowans had two. More important for the Spartans, they only committed one penalty in the second half.

Tafuna rushed for 155 yards. His backfield mate Justin Mottram went for 195.

"Our O-line did a great job," Ancich said. "We knew we had two backs and they just grinded it out. They earned that win tonight and they're going to feel it tomorrow."

Foothill took an 18-7 lead the second half on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Jack Gilchrist to Robert Forkey. After a penalty on the extra point attempt, the Knights decided to go for two, which Gilchrist converted.

Early in the third quarter, Tafuna scored a 3-yard touchdown and the two-point conversion that tied the score at 18.


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