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Whittier Christian fends off late challenge
WHITTIER - Whittier Christian looked in control of the game early behind three first-half touchdown passes from quarterback Ryan Esslinger, but the Heralds had to hold off a late rally to defeat Village Christian, 28-21, in their Olympic League opener on Friday at Whittier College.
Esslinger threw touchdown passes to three different wide receivers to give the Heralds (4-3, 1-0) a 19-0 lead in the second quarter. Esslinger threw for 213 yards in the first half and 318 for the game.
The first score of the game came when the Heralds went for it on a fourth-and-7 play and Esslinger connected with Cody Bronkar, who broke one tackle and then stiff armed a second tackler on his way to a 45-yard touchdown. Bronkar led the Heralds with 129 yards receiving.
The Crusaders (3-4, 0-1) got on the board as they drove 81 yards to cut the lead to 19-7 just before the end of the half on the first of three Roman Atreaga touchdowns.
The Heralds could not pull away in the quarter as they fumbled on next first play from scrimmage, which led to another Crusader touchdown. Two other drives in the third quarter both stalled at the Crusader 5-yard line and the Heralds were only able to come away with three points.
The Heralds were finally able to put a little distance between themselves and the Crusaders as went on an 83-yard drive that was finished off with a 4 yard touchdown run by David Fischer. Fischer ran for 124 yards to lead the Heralds.
The Crusaders cut the lead again to a single score and tried an onside kick, but the Heralds recovered it. The Heralds finally put the game away with 51 seconds remaining as they forced an incompletion on fourth down by the Crusaders after they had one final driver after forcing a Herald punt.