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Prep football: Time bandits

October 22, 2001

Barry Faulkner

COSTA MESA - Defensive-minded Laguna Beach High football coach Dave

Holland tried everything but a rugby scrum Friday night against the

offense of Pacific Coast League visitor Costa Mesa.

But the Mustangs, backing up the belief in them held by Coach Dave

Perkins, stuck to the ground, particularly in the second half, to pound

out a hard-fought 22-14 win over the Artists.

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"We had to throw a little more in the first half than I would have

liked, because we were in a lot of second-and-long situations due to

penalties," Perkins said. "But, in the second half, we felt like we could

go after them and wear them down. And that was pretty much the way it

went. We controlled the ball in both halves."

The Mustangs piled up nearly 32 minutes in time of possession, the

most in the school's last 29 games, and finished with 220 yards on the

ground.

The most important ground assault, however, came in the final 4:48,

after the Mesa defense stuffed the Artists on fourth down.

Faced with the opportunity to protect its eight-point lead, created

when Keola Asuega scored from a yard out with 7:15 left in the game,

Mesa's offense responded.

"Laguna Beach had 11 guys in the box trying to stop our run and we

still got first downs," Perkins said. "I think we converted three third

downs in that final possession to run out the clock.

"That was huge," Perkins added of the final possession, which helped

the Mustangs improve to 5-2, 1-1 in league. I can't say enough about our

offensive line."

That offensive line of guards Andrew Carich and Robert McQueen, center

Brett Via, as well as tackles James Paulsen and Brian Rayner, helped pave

the way for a balanced cast of ball carriers that included Asuega (89

yards on 17 carries), Nick Cabico (61 yards on 14 attempts), Freddy

Rodriguez (seven carries for 47 yards) and Omar Ruiz (35 yards on three

tries).

Perkins was generous with praise for his defense, which finally seems

to have settled into the four-three scheme that replaced the double flex

after the third game.

"I think the change has solidified things for us," Perkins said.

Nick Cabico and Luis Gonzalez had interceptions and Perkins credited

undersized tackles Doug Amburgey (5-foot-7, 155 pounds) and Benedick

David (5-6, 160) for wreaking havoc with the Laguna Beach running game.

"Our two little biddy guys were awesome," Perkins said. "Their

quickness helped them get in the (Laguna Beach) backfield and they really

caused some problems."

Amburgey recovered a fumble to help increase the Mustangs' turnover

ratio to plus 14.

"We do a lot of tackling drills that emphasize sticking your head on

the football, or the second guy coming in and trying to knock the ball

free," Perkins said. It's working out really well for us."

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