Titans top CLAN in Spaghetti Western

LAS FLORES, September 2, 2016—We’ll, it wasn’t really a shoot-out we saw Friday night at Tesoro Stadium in San Juan Hills, but there was plenty of red and just one gunslinger standing at the end of the night (hint: it wasn’t the Highlanders).

As for the CLAN performance, let’s start with the “good”.

The Highlander defense already looks solid with aggressive, hard-hitting play by Camron Rivas and crew. The defensive backfield appears quicker and more talented then those who took the field for the State Division Championship game at Camarillo last December. Finally, Prince Ross and Madison Wheeler are proving to be a lethal combination returning punts and kickoffs for the Boys in Blue.

Now, for the “bad”
Two Highlander special teams touchdowns were nullified by block-in-the back penalties—one, a dazzling 90 yard punt return by Ross; the other a 65 yard interception return by Wheeler.

Junior starting QB Zach Fogel was replaced by Joe Hernandez after a lack-luster first quarter, and the CLAN laid a goose-egg in the first half (can’t remember the last time that happened).

Highlanders were missing-in-action a couple of times and again had to rush onto the field just before the snap. It’s hard to be prepared when you’re not.

And, now for the “ugly”
The CLAN botched a game-winning fourth quarter field-goal attempt and an extra-point kick in OT—which sealed their doom—and Ely Anderson’s European-style rugby punting technique is still a work-in-progress (although he twice out-kicked Tesoro return-men with booming spirals when adopting the old-school style).

To give credit to the red-clad Black-hats in this saga, Tesoro QB, Chase Peterson, running back Brandon Sharp, and “little-big-man” Seth Gilmore were deadly with the leather all evening. Peterson connected with Sharp on a 30-yard roll-out flair pass on the last play of the first half to give the Titans a 7-0 lead at the break.

The CLAN knotted the score when Wheeler ran it in from two yards with 5:30 to go in the third quarter. Regulation play ended with the teams tied at seven.

In the tie-breaker overtime, the Highlanders’ Wheeler scored on a gutsy 15 yard run through Titan defenders, but the extra-point attempt sailed left . . .

How many times have you seen a team miss an extra point and go on to lose the contest by a single point? Can you say Newport Harbor 49, La Habra 48 in 2013?

So, with the ghostly tune from Eastwood’s “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” cued-up in our collective minds, CLAN fans watch Peterson and crew tie the game at 13, and then coolly fire the deadly leather through the heart of the uprights to trigger a flood of red on the floor of Titan Stadium.

No, we did not feel lucky tonight.

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