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Non-Cents, UC drops Lancers, 42-34, in season opener Phillip Brents | Fri, Sep 09 2011 01:43 PM

The Hilltop Lancers racked up 524 yards in total offense in last Friday’s football game against the visiting University City Centurions. Those kinds of offensive numbers are usually good enough to win most games. But the Centurions, with 403 total yards, also got their offense in high gear to claim a 42-34 shoot-out victory in the season opener for both teams.

The Cents received three touchdowns from senior Sam Haynes (18 carries, 188 yards), two scores from junior Abraham Jimenez (four carries, 37 yards) and another from junior Alexander Simpson to capture the non-league clash.

Hilltop senior quarterback Omar Hernandez completed 16 of 25 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns in the hard luck loss. 

The Lancer rushing attack was even more productive, producing 289 yards. Sophomore Montel Campbell scored three touchdowns, including a breakaway run of 56 yards to record the team’s first TD of the season. He finished the game with 21 carries for 202 yards.

Jeremiah Garcia caught a 25-yard scoring pass while Jon Ruiz grabbed a 12-yard touchdown pass. Paul Greene led Hilltop’s receivers with six catches for 61 yards while Abraham Gonzalez had four catches for 59 yards. Adam Howell had two grabs for 53 yards.

But it all went for naught.

The Lancers never led in the game, trailing 14-0 on an 11-yard TD run by Haynes and a nine-yard TD scamper by Jimenez with 1:50 left in the first quarter.

The teams then exchanged long scoring runs. After Campbell got the crowd on its feet cheering, Haynes promptly broke through the Hilltop defense for a 59-yard TD run to extend the UC lead to 21-7.

The next Centurion touchdown proved to be the difference in the game. A muffed punt gave UC the ball on the Hilltop four-yard line, and Jimenez carried it into the end zone on the next play: 28-7 Cents.

The Lancers fought back valiantly from there but just didn’t have enough to pull out a win. Hilltop scored three unanswered touchdowns to climb back into the game but a failed two-point conversion left the hosts trailing, 28-26, with 9:53 remaining in the third period.

The Lancers closed the halftime score to 28-13 on a four-yard run by Campbell, who then opened the second half with another score. An interception by David Vasquez then set up the Hernandez to Garcia TD strike.

But the Cents answered back with two TDs of their own to stave off any heroic comeback victory by Hilltop. A 55-yard punt return by Jordan Green set up the visitors on the 20-yard line. Haynes took the ball into the end zone on the next play. Trailing by nine points, the Lancers drove to the UC 20 on their next series but an untimely offside penalty and a QB sack left them without any points.

The Cents appeared to put the game out of reach on a one-yard scoring run by Simpson with 2:48 to play. But then came the never-say-die Lancers, who closed the gap to eight points on Ruiz’ grab and a successful two-point conversion with 1:44 left.

The visitors recovered the ensuing on-side kick-off — and 76 points later — finally managed to close out the game, likely with a huge sigh of relief.

From the Lancers’ viewpoint: exciting but frustrating.

Mustangs corraled

Cody Springsguth fired two scoring passes to stake the host Mustangs to an early 14-0 lead over Wildomar Elsinore but the Tigers’ running game proved too potent as the reigning CIF Southern Section Eastern Division champions rushed to a 44-21 non-league win.

Elsinore scored five rushing touchdowns, including two each by Andru Hickok and Daniel Rodriguez and one by Kevin Gatrost. Sophomore quarterback Tommy Wilson also fired a touchdown pass to Nolan Peralta and linebacker Jose Banda recorded a safety to boost the visitors, who led just 21-14 at halftime before exploding for 23 points in the third quarter.

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