Santa Clarita Christian football (2-1) notched their first win on the field in four years in dramatic fashion on Saturday.
The hosting Villanova Prep (0-1) scored a touchdown with the clock winding down to bring the Wildcats within one point of the Cardinals. Nova opted to go for the win in their season opener but SCCS stood tall at the goal line and denied the game-winning rush to win the game, 27-26.
The Cardinals would also recover the onside kick and escape Ojai with a victory.
Wide receiver Eli Duhm was unstoppable on the field. The sophomore had 12 receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
After trailing 7-0 in the first quarter, the Cardinals would never fall behind again. The team managed a small lead if any but didn’t allow another go-ahead score.
Sophomore Jonathan Boelter had a wild game, registering a team-high 11 tackles, one sack as well as forcing a fumble.
Five Cardinals went over nine tackles on the day.
Cardinals coach Austin Fry’s game plan zeroed in on containing Wildcats senior Riley Powell. The wide receiver managed three scores.
SCCS drove down the field late in the fourth quarter. The rushing attack was abandoned, leading Fry to call for a trick play to try to seal the game.
“For me, I’d always try and go for the win rather than try not to lose,” said Fry. “I trust my guys.”
Quarterback Cayden Rappleye threw his third pick of the day on the play leading to the Wildcats’ nearly game-winning drive. Powell caught a swing pass and again made several Cardinal defenders miss on his way to a long TD.
SCCS got fired up after the goal line stand and went on to close the game out in the final minute.
“The thing I’m most encouraged about is that yes, there’s stuff we can work on but to walk away with a win when there’s things to work on, it’s a really good place to be in,” said Fry.
The Cardinals will have their first opponent who is not playing in their season opener Saturday when the team faces Coast Union. The Broncos (1-1) of Cambria will be another long drive for SCCS as well as a tough test.
Fry is looking forward to seeing what his guys can do as they find out who they are against an elite opponent.
The Cardinals and Broncos will kick off Saturday at 6 p.m.