Rangers make move behind 'Strong'
by Jesse Phelps
In a meeting of struggling teams, Nordhoff welcomed Santa
Barbara's Bishop Garcia Diego Cardinals to Ojai Friday for a
hard-fought football game on a night when beloved Nordhoff teacher
Deno Lepas, who succumbed to cancer Oct. 7 in Los Angeles, was
remembered by a sizable crowd. Preceding the game, the bleachers
quieted for a moment of silence as the gathered assemblage looked
to a yellow banner on the field's northern gate bearing the inscription:
"Deno Lepas, teacher, friend, family man."
The Rangers (2-3) played inspired football, capitalizing on the
power running of Will Strong, several Bishop turnovers and a
big fourth quarter. Nordhoff triumphed 21-10 in a grind-it-out
affair to keep the Cardinals (0-5) winless.
Strong set the tone early. He scampered 17 yards on Nordhoff's
third play from scrimmage and racked up 132 yards rushing on
the night. "The line blocked great," he said after
Andy Bowman and Ryan Whitcomb once again shared time under center.
Bowman took over in the second and fourth quarters, while Whitcomb
started in the first and third. Both played well, distributing
the ball to a committee of backs out of a variety of power running
Still, the first quarter was a defensive war. The teams exchanged
a few punts before the Ranger offensive line found its rhythm.
On Nordhoff's third drive, Strong powered through gaps, and,
dragging defenders, consistently piled up yards after the initial
hit. Faced with fourth down at the Bishop one, coach Cliff Farrar
elected to go for it and once again he put the ball in the hands
of Will Strong, who powered a one-yard burst through the middle
of a stacked goal-line defense to draw first blood with 9:12
remaining in the half.
Late in the second quarter, Nordhoff looked to be in control,
having shut down the Cardinal running game, recorded several
sacks and kept the visitors off the scoreboard. But Bishop used
a series of quick passes to the sideline off a designed quarterback
rollout to penetrate into Ranger territory. As time ran out,
Bishop was well short on a difficult 45-yard field goal attempt,
but a roughing-the-kicker penalty advanced the ball 15 yards
for a much-easier second kick. The Cardinals were within four
at the half.
On their first possession of the second half, the Cardinals benefited
again from Ranger misconduct. An illegal block in the back on
a punt play kept the ball in the hands of the Cardinals, who
penetrated as far as the Nordhoff 35-yard line before being driven
back by a series of sacks, one by Strong and another by Josh
Catlett, who seemed to spend the better part of the night in
the Bishop backfield.
After a couple of punts, Nordhoff recovered a fumble inside the
Bishop 15-yard line, setting up Quirino for a 35-yard field goal
to stake the Rangers to a 10-3 advantage. But with about four
minutes to go in the third, the Rangers committed what seemed
at the time to be their most costly penalty of the night.
A pass interference call against the Rangers on what looked like
an uncatchable ball gave the Cardinals a first down at midfield.
The very next play went 36 yards and two plays later Bishop scored
its lone touchdown of the evening on a 7-yard completion. The
extra point tied the score at 10-10.
The fourth quarter belonged to Nordhoff. Quirino booted his second
field goal from 28 yards to recapture the lead. Then, with 2:45
left, Nordhoff's defense swarmed over the Bishop offensive line
to record a fourth-down sack. Marty Vogel took over from there,
punctuating the short drive with a three-yard touchdown run followed
by a two point conversion.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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|NHS Ranger Andy
Doyle blocks a Cardinal for Will Strong during last week's tune-up
for tonight's homecoming game. Strong, with the combined effort
of the whole Ranger squad, was able to pull off a 21-10 win over
the 0-5 Cardinals.