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Sage earns key win

Lightning greatly improve playoff chances after rallying for league win over Brethren Christian.

November 06, 2010|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com

LONG BEACH — The physical high school football game went back and forth, as both the Brethren Christian and Sage Hill teams took whatever momentum they could get.

The host Warriors had the ball at the end but made one fatal mistake.

They threw it to "Ascher Island."

Junior cornerback Conner Ascher picked off an underthrown ball in the end zone with just 11 seconds left, helping Sage Hill hold on for a big 34-26 Academy League win Saturday night at Clark Field.

Ascher laughed at the mention of Ascher Island after the game, a term the Lightning borrowed from "Revis Island," used to describe the shutdown cornerback abilities of the New York Jets' Darrelle Revis. But he came up big when needed.

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"I knew it was going to No. 7 [Jazz Hill]," Ascher said. "I knew I had to stay on him and stay in front of him."

The Lightning (7-2, 1-1 in league) knew they needed the win headed into their league final Friday against last-place Crean Lutheran. Had they lost to Brethren Christian, they could have finished no better than third in league and they would have been left hoping for an at-large berth into the CIF Southern Section East Valley Division playoffs.

As it is, Sage can clinch second place in league and an automatic berth by beating Crean Lutheran. Coach J.R. Tolver was proud of his team after its fourth come-from-behind victory of the season.

"It's a testament to this team," Tolver said. "They've proven time and time again that nothing rattles them. I think it goes back to the Tri-City Christian game [Sept. 10], where we were down 28-9 and came back to win, 33-31. Nothing rattles this team."

Senior Taylor Ross had 169 rushing yards and three touchdowns for Sage, which was down 20-13 at halftime to Brethren Christian (4-5, 1-1). Junior Taylor Petty resolved that on the short second-half kickoff, returning it 62 yards for a touchdown to knot the score.

Brethren pulled ahead again later in the quarter on junior quarterback Samuel Franklin's third rushing touchdown of the game, this one from three yards out.

But Sage owned the fourth quarter. Taking over the ball at their own 48-yard line after a fumble was recovered by Ford Hanour, the Lightning used two long pass plays to Petty to get the ball to the one-yard line. Senior quarterback Randall Mycorn ran it in and after Ross' conversion kick, Sage Hill had a 27-26 lead with under eight minutes to go.

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