ORANGE – El Modena’s football team are no strangers to hotly contested matches.
The Vanguards found themselves in another close game on Friday night, but they won with Sam Astor’s 22-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to defeat Aliso Niguel 20-15 at El Modena High.
Astor was held in check in the first half, so El Modena coach Matt Mitchell made a point of getting Astor more involved in the second half.
“We talked at halftime, we have to hand the ball over to Sam (Astor),” said Mitchell, “and we found a thing or two with Sam and handed the ball to him and made him go. ”
Three of El Modena’s four games were decided by a score. The Vanguards (3-1) earned a 19-14 victory over Santa Ana and a 17-15 loss to Sunny Hills before their five-point victory over the Wolverines (3-2).
El Modena QB Jack Keays is excited after the victory over Aliso Niguel. Keays (1 TD pass, 1 TD rush) praised his teammates until the end of the interview. @ocvarsity @elmodenafb @KeaysJackson @elmorowdyrooter pic.twitter.com/7D2Ke6LNoX
– David Delgado🇪🇨 (@DavidDelgado_OC) September 18, 2021
Vanguards quarterback Jack Keays threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score, and their special teams were also instrumental in the result.
Alex Luna scored the first touchdown on a false basket.
Mitchell said the play was designed for the incumbent Luna to throw a pass into the field, but Luna didn’t find any open receivers or pieces going to his left, so he quickly reversed the field and walked away. directed to his right. He pushed his way through the field, picking up nice blocks along the way, for a 19-yard touchdown run.
“I didn’t think we were going to score on our special teams, one touchdown on a scrambling play, and then they would block a kick for a touchdown,” Mitchell said. “It’s high school football at its best, you know that, and you try to coach every aspect of it. ”
The blocked kick Mitchell referred to was a 25-yard field goal attempt that was turned off by the Wolverines and then recovered by Jaden Beisel for a 70-yard return that took the game to 7-6 at the midpoint. time.
Instead of a 10-0 advantage for the Vanguards at the break, they found themselves hanging on to a slim lead in the second half.
In the third, Keegan Shone’s placement gave Aliso Niguel a 9-7 lead, then Keays scored on a 10-yard rush in El Modena’s next practice for a 14-9 advantage.
The Wolverines responded when Shaun McCaghren found Christian Aaberg for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 8:19 left in the fourth to go up 15-14. Aliso Niguel was stopped on the 2-point attempt.
The Vanguards’ next possession ended in a punt, but the defense made a big play to retrieve that ball as Zac Brehm forced a fumble and also retrieved it, his second recovery of the game.
This set up Keays for the eventual winning pass. He hit Astor at an angle, the receiver found a loophole in Aliso Niguel’s defense and crossed the goal line.