Two teams with struggling offenses took the field at Glover Stadium on Thursday, and with everything to play for, something had to give.
As it turned out, the Katella High School football team got right with its ground game against Marina in a game that both teams had to win.
Gabriel Dawson accumulated 203 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns to lead the host Knights past the Vikings 28-7 in the teams’ Big 4 League finale.
Dawson dazzled in turning nine carries into 155 rushing yards. He showcased his speed to gain the edge on a 52-yard touchdown that came just 10 seconds after Marina’s only score of the night.
In the second half, Dawson got the Knights out of the shadow of their own goalpost with a 35-yard run, one on which he displayed patience and vision to negotiate an escape route from the battle in the trenches.
“They try to get me to stay patient, to see the holes, because you can’t rush through,” Dawson said. “I’m a patient runner, and once I hit it, I hit it.”
Katella (5-5, 1-2) greatly improved its chances of qualifying for the CIF Southern Section playoffs — the pairings for which will be released on Sunday — by finishing the season with a .500 record, allowing the Knights to apply for an at-large berth.
Marina (3-7, 1-2) was left with the hope that Garden Grove (7-2, 2-0) would defeat Segerstrom (4-5, 1-1) on Friday, Oct. 29, creating a three-way tie for second place in the league. In that scenario, the Vikings would hope to be the beneficiary of a coin flip to determine the league’s final automatic playoff selection.
“We’ve still got an outside shot,” Marina coach Jeff Turley said. “It depends on a coin flip. We need a little help from our friends and a good flip.”
The Knights drove 70 yards on the opening drive of the contest, capping it with an 18-yard rushing touchdown by Aaron Ruiz.
Katella coach Juan Viramontes said he wanted his team to start the game with the ball to send a message that he had trust in their offense. It paid off.
“No matter what, I wanted the ball, and I wanted to put these guys out there,” Viramontes said. “I wanted to tell them and make a statement that we wanted to run the ball and just keep it going forward with them.”
Anthony Fabian got the Vikings on the board with a goal-line run at the start of the second quarter, tying the score at 7-7.
In a flash, the Knights regained the lead with Dawson’s long run down the right sideline. The junior running back would add a 20-yard rushing score, and Daunte Bell scored on a quarterback keeper with just 16 seconds left in the half, stretching the Knights’ advantage to 28-7.
Starter Brock Beaver (113 yards) and backup quarterback Peter Kim (119 yards) split the snaps for Marina, which scored just two offensive touchdowns across its three league games.
“It just seems like this last month, the perfect storm keeps hitting us,” Turley said. “Last week, I thought our [offensive] line did real well. We didn’t provide any protection. It just seems like each week, there was something else we were misfiring on. We just kept struggling to bring it all together.
“It’s hard. The kids were gutsy, they came out, they kept fighting. I’m very proud of the fact that they never stopped fighting.”
Katella recorded seven sacks on defense, including 2½ sacks by Daniel Viramontes, who also had an interception and recovered a fumble for the Knights.
“It feels really good because the past two games, we’ve been really down,” Viramontes, a junior defensive end, said. “A lot of people have been talking down on us, and now we can finally show what [kind of] team we are.”
Big 4 League
Katella 28, Marina 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Marina 0 – 7 – 0 – 0 — 7
Katella 7 – 21 – 0 – 0 — 28
K — Ruiz 18 run (Favila kick), 8:41.
M — Fabian 3 run (Frousiakis kick), 11:09.
K — Dawson 52 run (Favila kick), 10:59.
K — Dawson 20 run (Favila kick), 8:44.
K — Bell 1 run (Favila kick), 0:16.
M — Beaver, 4-44; Harvey, 9-42.
K — Dawson, 9-155, 2 TDs; Ruiz, 12-59, 1 TD.
M — Beaver, 12-17-0, 113; Kim, 9-23-2, 119.
K — Bell, 7-10-1, 60.
M — O’Callaghan, 5-68; Green, 6-64.
K — Dawson, 5-48.
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