Hart football handed West Ranch its first loss of the season on Saturday night, beating the Wildcats 28-21 at Valencia High School.
Hart’s Ryan Rossi scored the game-winning touchdown with 11:28 remaining in the game on a 13-yard run, but it was Travis Gill’s interception with less than a minute to play that sealed the game for the Indians.
It was Wildcats Against Cancer night, which made Gill’s interception particularly meaningful. Gill’s mother died in 2010 after a fourth-month battle against colon cancer.
“Every game, I play for my mom,” Gill said. “She was my biggest supporter and never missed a game. It means everything to me knowing she is consistently looking down on me.”
Hart’s offense broke the scoring silence with 1:06 left in the first quarter. Zach Johnson threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Drew Munoz to make it 7-0.
The Indians’ defense kept West Ranch quarterback Walker Eget from completing a pass for the entirety of the first quarter. He shook off the ugly start to throw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Zach Van Bennekum at the 9:07 mark in the second quarter and tie the game for the first time on the evening.
“He’s only a junior,” said Wildcats coach Chris Varner of Eget. “He’s going to make these mistakes as a junior and he’s going to learn from it. He’s a great kid and studies film.”
Hart (6-3 overall, 3-1 in Foothill League) took the lead once again five minutes later as Taden Littleford ran in a touchdown on a 5-yard scamper.
The game was tied up once more with 2:11 left until halftime when Eget threw a 30-yard pass to Jackson Reyes for a touchdown.
Reyes was able to intercept Johnson on Hart’s next possession, leading to a trick play by the Wildcats. Eget passed to Van Bennekum, who tossed it back to Eget, who in turn threw it to Brandon Wyre for a new set of downs.
The momentum was cut short three plays later, however, when Ashton Thomas intercepted Eget heading into halftime.
“A lot of their season has been passing and that’s how they’ve been successful,” Gill said. “That’s a good quarterback and he’s had a lot of success this season and I think that was half the battle on us, playing defense.”
On the other side of the half, the scoring picked up once more when Johnson threw his second touchdown of the night, this one on a 10-yard pass to Thomas. West Ranch (8-1, 3-1) struck back two minutes later at 2:44 on a 47-yard pass to Wyre to make it 21-all.
Rossi, who ran in the final touchdown, saw increased reps in Saturday’s game as Littleford’s time was limited towards the end of the game due to a nagging shoulder injury.
“We were preparing all practice for if the worst happened and it did, so I came in and did what I could,” Rossi said.
Hart’s win re-arranges the Foothill League standings. Valencia sits in first place with a 4-0 league record. The Indians and Wildcats are now tied for second with identical 3-1 records. Prior to Saturday’s game, Valencia and West Ranch were tied for first.
West Ranch is scheduled to play on Nov. 1 against Valencia in the last Foothill League game of the season and Hart hosts Golden Valley at College of the Canyons. Both games are set to start at 7 p.m.