Sports

Highlanders undone by Griffins’ big plays

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

La Habra uncharacteristically gave up a handful of long touchdown runs early and dropped its third consecutive game at the hands of an explosive Los Alamitos offense Friday night.

La Habra running back Eli Anderson looks to run past Los Alamitos defenders Friday night at La Habra. Photo by Miguel Pola
La Habra running back Eli Anderson looks to run past Los Alamitos defenders Friday night at La Habra. Photo by Miguel Pola

Los Alamitos came into the contest motivated by the lingering image of La Habra’s last-second hail mary touchdown victory over them a season ago.

The Highlanders once again scored on the last play of the game. However, there was no miracle this time, just a 40-29 final score prompting the visiting Griffin fans to rush the field.

Dylan Laurent burned the Highlanders with three long first-half touchdowns of 51, 62 and 74 yards, and finally put the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter with a 30-yard score. Laurent finished with 183 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.

“Our guys are really talented,” said Ray Fenton, Griffins head coach. “We have some big time athletes, Dylan Laurent I think is outstanding, he is a special player.”

The Griffins built a first half lead with a pair of special teams scores.

“We think special teams is an opportunity to score and we have always felt that way,” Fenton said.

Laurent’s first score came on a 51-yard punt return to make it 13-0 with a minute left in the first quarter.

La Habra Coach Framk Mazzota and the Highlander team analyze some game video during Friday's home game against Los Alamitos. Photo by Miguel Pola.
La Habra Coach Framk Mazzota and the Highlander team analyze some game video during Friday’s home game against Los Alamitos. Photo by Miguel Pola.

Early in the second quarter with the Highlanders in the red zone, Madison Wheeler ran the offense from the pistol and leaped over the pile for a 1-yard touchdown to make it a one-score game.

Keanu Norman took the ensuing kickoff back 81 yards for the touchdown.

Zach Fogel led the Highlanders back down the field and set up another Wheeler touchdown from inside the red zone.

The Griffins answered back just two plays later with a 74-yard score by Laurent leaving the Highlanders down 33-14 at the half.

The Highlander defense tightened up and nearly kept the Griffins off the scoreboard the entire second half, until Laurent put his stamp on the game with the final score.

“We just dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t get out of tonight,” said Frank Mazzotta, La Habra head coach.

Fogel got off to a lackluster start against the Griffins, but began to connect with Prince Ross in the second quarter and finished 13-24 for 179 yards with a touchdown, a fumble and one interception. Ross had his best performance of the season with 119 yards and a touchdown.

Photo by Miguel Pola
Photo by Miguel Pola

Freshman Jacobah Fuamatu saw action at running back for the Highlanders and scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Mazzotta said he has been looking for opportunities to get Fuamatu more carries because he loves his running style and feels that he will just keep getting better with more game experience.

“You got to punish the defense, you have to run into the defense and make them not want to tackle you late in the game,” Mazzotta said. “That’s what I love about Jacobah, he runs hard.”

The Highlanders will be at home again next Friday taking on Colony High School.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.