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Orange Lutheran continues impressive start
LA VERNE - No. 9 Orange Lutheran played fast, aggressive and all three phases of the game Friday to collect an impressive victory against one of the touted teams in the San Gabriel Valley.
Running back Tavi Jimmerson rushed for 117 yards and a TD and the Lancers held host Damien of La Verne to 213 yards offense en route to a 31-14 victory.
The Lancers (2-0) and their option attack needed less than 2 hours to notch their second road victory and rolled past No. 4 in the Valley despite playing without quarterback Luke Langdon (knee).
Damien (0-1) is ranked fourth by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune behind Bishop Amat, which beat Servite last week, Chino Hills and West Covina.
Sophomore J.D. Pickell stepped in at quarterback for Orange Lutheran and directed a ground attack that racked up 255 yards behind a huge offensive line.
Orange Lutheran's defense, now under the direction of coordinator Mike Jacot, recorded four sacks while returner Adam Connette and kicker Reese Flynn sparked the special teams.
The Lancers threw just one pass, a 12-yard competition in the third quarter that led to a score.
"I thought we played with great emotion," first-year Orange Lutheran coach Chuck Petersen said. "We're a blue collar football team that's just got to be hungry, and we've got play like our hair is on fire every snap of the game."
Orange Lutheran received a spark from a special teams play early in the second quarter.
Chaz Claunch recovered a fumble by Damien on a punt from Flynn at the Spartans 2 with 10:33 left in the second. Both teams fought for the ball in the pile, but Claunch's recovery led to a 2-yard TD run by Patrick Reardon and a 14-7 lead for the Lancers.
Later in the second quarter, Orange Lutheran's defense got a big hit from Michael Ramirez to force Damien to punt. Connette returned the punt 38 yards to the Damien 47 with 3:59 left in the second quarter.
The half ended with Flynn booting a 46-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the Lancers to a 17-7 lead.
Orange Lutheran then opened the second half with a 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive that Miles Willis capped with a 2-yard run with 5:21 left in the third quarter.
Tylen Drake kept the drive alive with a 12-yard reception to the Damien 1 on a fourth-and-short. Drake held onto the ball despite taking a jarring hit that knocked off his helmet. Drake received a penalty for unsportsmanlike after the play, but the Lancers scored to open a 24-7 lead.
A sack by defensive end Aisea Tongilava forced Damien to punt from its end zone on the ensuing possession. After a 14-yard punt return by Connette to the Damien 17, the Lancers quickly marched for a 5-yard touchdown run by Jimmerson and a 31-7 lead with 50 seconds left in the third.
The senior has 248 yards rushing in two games, including 131 against Long Beach Wilson.
"Tavi has had two really good weeks, but he'd be the first to tell you that (offensive linemen John) Lopez, (Colin) Sutton, (Tim) Schlueter, (Jason) Long and (Matt) Jaeger are allowing him to be good," Petersen said of Jimmerson.
Pickell added a 5-yard touchdown run to the ground attack. His score capped the Lancers' 10-play, 65-yard drive on their first possession.
"We have great confidence in J.D., Luke or whoever is out there," Petersen said.
Orange Lutheran also played cleanly, picking up only two penalties for 10 yards. The Lancers play El Modena next week.