Russ took the opening kickoff of the second half 85 yards for a score, starting a sequence that saw the Marauders break open a close game in the first few minutes of the third quarter. And his 61-yard kickoff return, aided by an East LA penalty that had the Huskies kicking off from their own 15 yard-line after scoring their second touchdown of the game, not only closed out the scoring but matched his school record of 2 kickoff returns for touchdowns he set last week against West LA.
And Russ would have had another return for a touchdown had he not stepped on the sideline during a punt return in the second quarter. What originally appeared to be a 72-yard touchdown run became a 47-yard return to the East LA 25 after the officials ruled his stepped on the sideline as he sped towards the end zone. It didn’t appear there were any tacklers nearby. In any case, AVC ended up settling for a field goal on that drive, though that score gave the Marauders a lead they would hold the rest of the way.
Early on, AVC seemed to dominate play, but nevertheless found a way to avoid holding a lead. The Marauders put together a 7-play, 88-yard drive on their first possession, with Dominique Blood doing most of the damage. The 6-1, 210-pound back gained 58 yards on the drive, including a 12-yard scoring run that made it 6-0. But on the extra point, holder John Perez was unable to handle a high snap, and no kick was attempted, keeping the score 6-0.
And East LA took the lead moments later. On the ensuing kickoff, Quinton Garrus returned the kick 66 yards to the AVC 22. Five plays later, Pedro Velasquez threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Antoine Smithson to tie the score. And when Ramon Rodriguez kicked the extra point, the Huskies had a 7-6 lead.
On each of their next two possessions, AVC drove inside the East LA 20 only to come away empty when Brett Lloyd missed a field goal attempt each time. Then came Russ’ punt return, on which the Marauders appeared to take a 12-7 lead until the officials ruled he had stepped out at the 25. AVC was able to gain an additional 17 yards after that, but on a 4th and goal from the 8, the Marauders settled for a 25-yard field goal from Javi Navarro, giving them a 9-7 lead.
Finally, on AVC’s last possession of the half, Rodney Dorsette teamed up with Charles Johnson on a 30-yard touchdown pass that increased AVC’s lead to 15-7. Curiously, the Marauders tried for a 2-point conversion (rather than the single point that would have made it a two-possession game), which failed when Johnson caught a Dorsette pass but was forced out of bounds short of the goal line. That kept the score 15-7 at hafltime.
But the game turned quickly in AVC’s favor when the second half started. First came Russ’ kickoff return for a score that made it 22-7. Then when East LA got the ball, Smithson experienced a nightmarish carry that lost an astounding 24 yards (despite no fumble on the play) back to the East LA 12. Then two plays later, Chris Whitney sacked quarterback Saile Ramirez and knocked the ball loose. Robert Moore recovered for AVC at the 3, and moments later Blood scored his second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run to make it 28-7. Then on the conversion, AVC lined up as if to kick but instead had holder Perez run the ball in, making it 30-7.
When East LA got the ball back again, the Huskies’ nightmare continued. First, a bad snap resulted in a 9-yard loss. Then on second down, Chad Davis blitzed Ramirez and knocked the ball loose. This time Pablo Navarro recovered at the East LA 2. The East LA defense managed to prevent the touchdown, but Javi Navarro came on and kicked a 20-yard field goal to make it 33-7, all but ending the game.
But the excitement wasn’t quite over yet. The teams traded touchdowns later in the half, with AVC increasing its lead to 40-7 when Dorsette and Charles Johnson again teamed up on a touchdown pass. East LA got its second touchdown when Steve Torres intercepted a Perez pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. There was a personal foul penalty on East LA on the play, which was assessed on the kickoff.
That gave Russ his chance for another score. The kickoff was from the 15 because of the penalty, and Russ caught the ball at his own 39. And he went right down the middle of the field, eluding a couple of tacklers but making it through the East LA coverage team untouched en route to a 61-yard touchdown return. That marked his 6th kickoff return for a touchdown this season, believed to be a national JC record.
Russ finished with 5 total returns for 207 yards, and also had a pair of tackles for losses on special teams as a coverage man in a spectacular special teams performance. But he was far from the only standout for AVC. Dorsette completed 7 of 12 passing for 128 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. Blood rushed for 108 yards and scored twice. And the Marauder defense allowed just one touchdown, registered 7 sacks and held East LA to a net total of minus-43 yards rushing.
The win keeps AVC atop the Pacific Conference of the American Division with a 4-0 conference record. The Marauders made the Southern California playoffs last season as Foothill Conference champions, winning their first 9 games, a streak that broke a 26-game losing streak for AVC entering the 2007 season.
Antelope Valley Marauders 47
East L.A. Huskies 14
Saturday, October 25, 2008 - 1 pm – Floyd Nicholson Field (QHHS) – Quartz Hill
American Division – Pacific Conference
A – Blood 12 yd run (kick failed – high snap) 7:29 (6-0)
E – Smithson 11 yd pass from Velasquez (R.Rodriguez kick) 4:50 (6-7)
A – FG J.Navarro 26 yds 5:35 (9-7)
A – C.Johnson 30 yd pass from Dorsette (pass failed) 2:04 (15-7)
A – Russ 85 yd kickoff return (J.Navarro kick) 14:45 (22-7)
A – Blood 1 yd run (Perez run) 13:26 (30-7)
A – FG J.Navarro 20 yds 11:03 (33-7)
A – C.Johnson 10 yd pass from Dorsette (J.Navarro kick) 5:17 (40-7)
E – Torres 44 yd interception return (Alatriste kick) 13:08 (40-14)
A – Russ 61 yd kickoff return (J.Navarro kick) 12:59 (47-14)
First Downs: Antelope Valley 20 (13 rush, 5 pass, 2 penalty), East LA 13 (3 rush, 7 pass, 3 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Antelope Valley 42-222, East LA 29-(-43)
Passing Yds: Antelope Valley 136, East LA 145
Comp-Att-Int: Antelope Valley 8-15-1, East LA 16-30-0
Return Yds: Antelope Valley 241, East LA 203
Sacks-Yds: Antelope Valley 7-68, East LA 1-1
Fumbles-Lost: Antelope Valley 0-0, East LA 4-3
Penalties-Yds: Antelope Valley 9-90, East LA 8-52
Time of Possession: Antelope Valley 29:03, East LA 30:57
Rushing: AVC 7-Blood 19-108, 35-McNeil 8-56, 1-C.Johnson 1-20, 36-Whitson 7-16, 6-Dorsette 3-12, 25-Teasley 2-11, 49-Henry 1-2, team 1-(-3); East LA 7-M.Rodriguez 4-10, 17-Garrus 4-5, 1-Smithson 8-3, 5-Torres 4-1, 10-Ramirez 4-(-25), 11-Velasquez 4-(-38), team 1-(-9)
Passing: AVC 6-Dorsette 7-12-0-128, 2 TDs; 13-Perez 1-3-1-8; East LA 11-Velasquez 14-25-0-135, 1 TD; 10-Ramirez 2-5-0-10
Receiving: AVC 1-C.Johnson 4-56, 3-R.Johnson 1-33, 85-Archie 1-22, 16-Mims 1-17, 86-Potts 1-8; East LA 1-Smithson 6-31, 82-Carter 5-72, 2-Woods 2-14, 5-Torres 1-15, 18-Valdovinos 1-7, 7-M.Rodriguez 1-6
Interceptions-Ret Yds: AVC none; East LA 5-Torres 1-44
Fumble Rec: AVC 92-Moore 1-3, 50-Howard 1-0, 99-P.Navarro 1-0
Sacks: AVC 9-Davis 2, Whitney 1½, 32-Collins, 92-Moore, 99-P.Navarro, 93-Miller ½; East LA 44-Salter 1-1
Punters: AVC 33-J.Navarro 2-38.5 avg; East LA 5-Torres 35.0 avg
Kick Returns: AVC 11-Russ 2-146, 33-J.Navarro 1-31; East LA 5-Torres 4-40, 2-Woods 3-51, 17-Garrus 1-66, 20-Hernandez 1-5
Punt Returns: AVC 11-Russ 3-61; East LA 2-Woods 1-(-3)
Notes: Antelope Valley entered 3-3, 3-0 in conference; East LA entered 0-6, 0-3 in conference. Garrus’ kick return set up East LA’s 1st TD. Russ had a 47-yd punt return on which he inadvertently stepped out of bounds seemingly on his way to a TD; AVC had to settle for J.Navarro’s FG instead. A Whitney sack forced a Ramirez fumble that Moore recovered at the 3, setting up AVC’s 4th TD. A Davis sack forced a Ramirez fumble that P.Navarro recovered at the 2, setting up AVC’s 2nd FG. Russ tied the AVC school record he set last week with 2 kickoff returns for TDs; he now has 6 for the season, also a school record and perhaps a national JC record. This is AVC’s largest margin of victory since 11/1/03 (AVC 56, SBVC 13).