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La Habra refuses to fall in league opener
FULLERTON - Any theories that La Habra is having a down year and is primed to relinquish its Freeway League title might be premature.
Despite a 2-3 record entering Friday's league opener against Troy, the Highlanders, who have won the past five league titles and 11 of 13, scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to come back and defeat the Warriors, 20-19.
Trailing 13-7 early in the fourth quarter, Sebastian Salinas scored on a 27-yard run. However La Habra (3-3, 1-0) missed the extra point and the score was tied at 13.
After a Troy punt, the Highlanders marched 87 yards in 12 plays to take a 20-13 lead. Greg Gaines rumbled in from 6 yards to finish the drive with 5:36 remaining.
The Warriors (3-3, 0-1) quickly rallied back as Kyle Blumer tossed a 30-yard TD pass to Dominic Vaccher — his third of the game to Vaccher — with 2:37 left to cut the score to 20-19. Troy coach Kevin Hastin elected to go for two points, but Dallas Parent was stopped short of the goal line.
The Warriors recovered an onside kick and moved the ball to the Highlanders 41-yard line with under a minute to play. However, an intentional grounding penalty and three combined sacks by Gaines and Michael Dearmond halted Troy's final surge. Blumer's short pass to Parent on fourth and long fell incomplete and the La Habra ran out the clock to seal the win.
"My seniors and I wanted to go for two and the win," said Hastin. "It's a tough loss, but we'll bounce back."
Parent led the Warriors with 135 yards rushing and Vaccher caught TD passes of 8, 18 and 30 yards.
Salinas had 102 yards rushing, and Christian Casas caught 6 passes for La Habra.
Sean Sparling's 10-yard TD run gave the Highlanders a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.
The Warriors countered with a 53-yard drive that ended with a TD pass from Blumer to Vaccher tying the score at 7-7 at halftime.