Hart football sees lead slip away, falls to Muir in OT

Hart teammates Freddy Alvarenga (72), Nathan Dodds (20) and Nathan Wiles (24) bring down Tyrikk Lawson for a loss. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The tides can turn quickly in football, and that’s exactly what happened on Friday night at College of the Canyons in a contest between Hart and Muir.

The Indians took a 13-0 lead into halftime thanks in large part to a strong defensive effort and a highlight-filled first half for running back Taden Littleford.

However, mishaps plagued Hart all night, and Muir was able to come back and snatch a 30-24 victory in overtime.

Hart’s defense did not allow a first down until around the two-minute mark in the second quarter, and it also stopped Muir on three fourth-down situations.

Littleford scored twice to give the Indians a solid cushion. His first score came on a 35-yard screen pass from Zach Johnson and in the second quarter he rumbled in for a touchdown at the goal line.

Hart’s Taden Littleford (6) evades a Muir defender as he brings the ball towards the goal line, later to score for Hart in the second quart quarter at COC on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal

The mistakes started from the get-go for Hart, as the first drive was stalled after two false starts and a holding penalty. 

On Hart’s second drive, a bad exchange between Johnson and his center led to a fumble that was recovered by Muir. Nonetheless, Hart’s defense kept the lead intact.

In the second half, the mistakes proved more costly.

Johnson tried to avoid a sack and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, making the score 13-6. The Indians were able to score a field goal on their ensuing possession to make the score 16-6, but immediately after they gave up a touchdown on a kickoff return.

Muir took an 18-16 lead after scoring on a 13-yard run, then Hart missed a chip shot field goal with five minutes left in the game.

The Mustangs were able to connect on a deep ball for a score and the Indians suddenly found themselves down 24-16. 

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Trying to will his team back, Johnson took hit after hit and then took a deep shot down the field, but his pass was intercepted. 

Once again, Hart’s defense stepped up and forced the Mustangs to punt, giving the offense less than two minutes to score.

Johnson hit Ryan Tomaszewski for a big gain then the quarterback pounded the ball in for a 1-yard touchdown to bring the score to 24-22. Johnson found Ashton Thomas on a quick pass to the left sideline and Thomas muscled his way in for a two-point conversion.

Hart’s Ashton Thomas (33) brings the ball towards the goal line in the second quarter at COC on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Muir still had 31 seconds to go down the field and attempted a long pass, but Thomas intercepted it and Hart took over with 12 seconds remaining, but couldn’t get the winning score.

In overtime, Muir got the ball first and the defense forced them into yet again another fourth down, but this time the Mustangs converted on a long pass for a touchdown. 

With the score at 30-24 after a missed point-after attempt, the Indians had one last chance to win the game. However, the Mustangs’ defense gave them fits and forced Johnson to throw deep on fourth down and his pass was intercepted.

Hart enters the bye week with an 0-2 record and will look for its first win in a home game against Burbank on Sept. 13.

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