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AVC shuts down Vaqueros, 17-7

Freshman linebacker Chase Elliott closes in on AVC quarterback Armani Edden. Elliott had a season-high 14 tackles. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
Freshman linebacker Chase Elliott closes in on AVC quarterback Armani Edden. Elliott had a season-high 14 tackles. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

Antelope Valley ground out 286 rushing yards on Saturday and held SBCC to 57 in a 17-7 football win at La Playa Stadium.

The Marauders, who averaged 5.7 yards a carry, won their third straight game to improve to 4-3 overall. They're alone in first place in the American Pacific League at 2-0. The Vaqueros dropped their third in a row and fell to 3-4 and 0-2.

Santa Barbara started the day with great promise, driving 80 yards in 13 plays on its first possession. Quarterback Gerald Hickson scrambled for 22 yards, giving the Vaqueros a first-and-goal at the 4.

Emmanuel Nwosu ran eight times for 45 yards on the march, capped by a 2-yard burst up the middle for a touchdown with 5:53 to go in the first quarter. Nwosu finished with 71 rushing yards on 20 carries, ending his streak of six straight 100-yard games.

The Marauders struck back quickly with a four-play, 63-yard drive in 95 seconds that ended with a 1-yard TD run by quarterback Armani Edden. DJ Payne started the drive with a 39-yard run and Kevin Smith followed with a 21-yard sprint.

Payne gained 244 yards on 32 tries for a 7.6-yard average. AVC piled up 286 rushing yards on 50 carries. They enjoyed a 20-13 first-down advantage, including 14-5 in first downs on the ground.

AVC piled up 370 total yards and held the Vaqueros to 203.

"We came out and went right down the field and scored, then we let come right back to tie it," said coach Craig Moropoulos. "At times, the offense did well and at times, the defense did well. We need to get more consistent in all three phases, including the kicking game."

Antelope Valley took over at midfield with 2:09 to go in the first half and went 50 yards in eight plays for its second touchdown. Edden hit John Johnson for a 22-yard gain to the 18. Three plays later, he threw a high pass on a wheel route up the right sideline and Johnson made a diving catch for the 18-yard score and a 14-7 halftime lead.

Hickson completed 10-of-11 passes for 69 yards in the first half. He finished 16-22 for 116 yards. Julian Blain caught six passes for 55 yards and Reese Perez had five for 38 yards.

The Vaqueros didn't have the services of their top receiver, Donald Lambert, who missed the game with an injury. In six games, he's caught 16 passes for 360 yards (22.5 avg.) and five TDs.

The Vaquero offense had tough field position in the second half with their first six possessions starting at their 27, 7, 28, 14, 20 and 33-yard lines.

On its second drive of the third quarter, AVC covered 32 yards in nine plays for the final score of the game – a 27-yard field goal by Dylan Moghaddam.

Chase Elliott, a freshman linebacker from Huntington Beach, had his best game of the year with 14 tackles (5 solo) and a quarterback hurry. RJ Thorne added 10 tackles and a sack.

The Marauders recorded seven sacks for 45 yards.

"They were really good up front and did a job on our offensive line," said Moropoulos. "We saw a lot of positives today with an interception (by Russell Enholm) near their goal line and a fourth-down stop on defense. We have to keep building on those things."

The Maruaders marched 60 yards in 11 plays and went for it on fourth-and-2 at the Vaquero 15 on the fourth play of the final quarter. SBCC lineman Matthew McCarthy held Payne to a 1-yard gain, giving the ball to the Vaqueros.

Santa Barbara will travel to Citrus (1-6, 0-2) on Saturday for a 4 p.m. game in Glendora.