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Canyon football tops Foothill in battle to the end

ORANGE — Canyon football coach Phil Hughes expected his team Friday night to face its toughest opponent yet.

The No. 17-ranked Comanches showed they were ready for the challenge.

With their defense making several key plays late in the game, the Comanches were able to secure a 28-24 win over Foothill at El Modena High.

“I told the guys, ‘This game is going to be complete adversity and we’ve got to be able to respond,’ ” Hughes said. “Our guys did what they needed to do when the moment came.”

Canyon (6-0) made two critical defensive stops late in the fourth while protecting a four-point advantage.

Pasha Golestaneh broke up a pass from Nicholas Miali with under three minutes left on Foothill’s penultimate possession.

The Knights then forced a Comanches punt on the next drive and got the ball back with 1:29 left. Canyon’s DJ Knupp got a strip sack on Foothill’s final play to secure the win.

Canyon quarterback Christian Lundsberg threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns, both to Colin Chu. One of those TDs, which went for 74 yards, gave Canyon a 10-point lead in the fourth.

Chu caught six passes for 158 yards.

“I’ve been waiting for the kid to get one of those all year,” Hughes said of Chu’s fourth-quarter score. “He’s been waiting to burst all year, always one guy away from breaking one, so I was really stoked for him in that moment.”

Foothill (3-3) responded to that score with a scoring drive of its own, which was sparked by an acrobatic 44-yard catch by Jack Zerkel and capped by Charles Hughes’15-yard run.

On the extra-point attempt, a bad snap forced the Knights to improvise and throw it into the end zone, but the errant throw was caught by Canyon’s Connor Leonard.

Foothill trailed 14-3 at halftime but in the third quarter it went on an eight-play scoring drive with Aaron Mitchell carrying the bulk of the load. Mitchell’s 15-yard touchdown run and 2-point conversion made it 14-11.

Golestaneh scored on a 28-yard run early in the fourth, Foothill countered when Miali found Tyler Holcomb for a 23-yard score, but Lundsberg then hit Chu for the decisive points.

Miali finished with 258 yards passing and a touchdown while Mitchell gained 189 yards and a TD on 30 carries.

Both teams struggled to put points on the board in the second quarter.

Miali was picked off by Leonard in the end zone, and Leonard returned it 63 yards.

The Comanches drove to the Foothill 2 but Foothill sacked Lundsberg. The sack was compounded by a facemask penalty against Canyon that pushed it back to the 36.

Foothill got the ball after a punt and drove down into field goal range before halftime. Reese Neuer missed the 44-yard attempt, but the Comanches were called for running into the kicker.

Foothill lined up for a 39-yard field goal and missed again on the untimed down to end the half.

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