ANTELOPE VALLEY - Foothill Conference Champs

It had been since 1987 since the Marauders (9-0. 7-0) had won a conference title, but in the last regular season game to be played on grass at AVC's home Marauder Stadium they did just that. (PHOTO - AVC LB ERIC LEON HAS BEEN A REAL FORCE ON DEFENSE).

Their No. 2 in state offense made the big stops when they needed to, and the second to last offense in the state connected for a season high 359 yards.

The Marauder also qualified for post-season for the first time since 1974 when AVC won the small school state championship.  Since the worst AVC can do is tie Desert for the last Foothill Conference championship if AVC loses next week at Southwestern and the Roadrunners beat SD Mesa, AVC qualifies as the conference's seed because of the Marauder's 18-13 win last week in Palm Desert

It is only the second time in Marauder history AVC has won nine games in the regular season.

AVC came out just like they did against Desert, and drove 75 yards in 11 plays to score when Aaron Wilson scored from three. 

But the Panthers, unlike many of the teams the Marauders have faced this season, have an excellent kicker in Justin Veazie.  So when the Panthers (5-5, 4-4) were stifled inside the 20, Chaffey would get points from it.  Veazie hit from 29 and 32 to draw Chaffey to 7-6 just inside the second quarter.  Veazie's first field goal was the first points scored against the No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense this season in the first quarter.

On the next Marauder possession, AVC marched 56 yards, helped by a Rodney Dorsette pass on third down to Eddie Russ Jr. for 31 yards putting AVC on the 26.  Two plays later, Wilson broke into the open and went 18 yards for his second score.  Dorsette would end seven for 16 passing with 101 yards.

The Marauders went into the halftime with a 24-6 lead when Dominic Blood broke into the open on a quick opener and dashed 61 yards for a touchdown and Javi Navarro kicked a 28 yard field goal after AVC recovered a Panther fumble on the Chaffey 20.  Blood became the second Marauder of the season to rush for 100 yards on a 12 rush, 111 yard day.

In the inital drive of the second half, the Marauders stopped the Panthers cold on the first three plays, but a roughing the punter call gave Chaffey a first down and kept the drive alive to the Marauder 10 but had to settle for a Veazie 28 yard field goal.

The Marauders nearly sealed the game when they drove to the Panther five only to fumble the ball away early in the fourth quarter. 

After a Marauder stop after the fumble, Ryan Counce intercepted a Dorsette pass and returned it 33 yards to the AVC 25.  Two plays later Aaron Mays, who was suddenly all alone when his defender fell forward, pulled in a 12 yard pass from Derrick Duran and Chaffey was down by eight, 24-16 with 7:20 left in the ball game.

Despite the fact that the Marauders held the Panthers to AVC's defensive average of 217 yards in the game, the Panthers were able to drive to the Marauder 24 with three minutes left, and were second and one looking for the potential tie.  The Panthers tried their running attack, that was "fairly" successful against the No. 1 rushing team in the nation and had picked up 96 yards on the game.  But Jahmel Rover, who was 18 for 78 rushing on the game, first hit Eric Leon, who became the Marauders' season defensive point record holder with 17 tackles, including a sack on third down and then Jeromy Lee on fourth for no yards and the Marauders had the ball on downs with 2:24 left.

Three straight quarterback sneaks and three straight Panther timeouts seemed to give the ball back to Chaffey with two minutes left.  But Navarro read the Panther rush and dashed for the hole it created and picked up 41 yards and the first down that allowed AVC to kneel their way to the win.


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