GG High loses opener in thriller

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By THUY HO: In the traditional battle of Garden Grove High and Westminster High, these teams have loaded up against each other in week one for many years. 

It was the No. 5-ranked Lions welcoming the No. 1 ranked Argonauts to a beautiful and brand new Boswell Field on the Westminster campus for the 7 p.m. kickoff last Friday night and the crowd for Westminster was big and loud. 

Nobody was going to leave disappointed.

By THUY HO: In the traditional battle of Garden Grove High and Westminster High, these teams have loaded up against each other in week one for many years. 

It was the No. 5-ranked Lions welcoming the No. 1 ranked Argonauts to a beautiful and brand new Boswell Field on the Westminster campus for the 7 p.m. kickoff last Friday night and the crowd for Westminster was big and loud. 

Nobody was going to leave disappointed.

Garden Grove High methodically marched down the field on its first possession and showed why the squad is the defending Southern Section CIF champions.  All-CIF running back Jordan Antunez was fantastic all night as he rushed for 265 yards and scored on of his first of four touchdowns of the night with a 23-yard scamper in the first quarter. 

This had the look of a normal Argonauts game, in which they would outmatch their opponents and grind them into the turf. 

Westminster High, evidently, was ready to flip the script.  The Argos did not convert on the extra point and Westminster appeared ready to take advantage of this small mishap.

The Lions mixed in a few runs and some precision passes by quarterback Matt Dinh and moved the ball on a 5-minute drive that ended with junior Isayah Anderson taking his first carry for a 7-yard touchdown and was followed by an extra point by Carlos Rocha.  

The boisterous Lions crowd began to roar, but that was very short lived as Antunez took his first carry for a 65-yard touchdown and this time the snap and hold allowed Derek Ayala the chance to make the PAT and gave the Argos a 13-7 lead.

The Lions brief momentum seemed to fade as their lead only held up for 17 seconds.  After another stalled drive for the Lions, the Argos took advantage of a high punt snap and took possession on the Lions' 5-yard linen leading to a 3-yard Antunez touchdown. 

The Lions' defense was put to the test and Kevin Memminger put on a great rush disrupting the PAT, causing another missed opportunity for the Argos.

The ensuing kickoff had Alex Reyes follow his blockers for a return to the 50 yard line.  In 3 minutes, the Lions found the end zone again as Anderson took a Dinh pass 37 yards for a touchdown and Rocha’s extra point finished the half with the defending champions lead cut to 19-14.

The third quarter began with stiffened defense by both teams before Antunez  had another magical run for 73 yards and his fourth touchdown of the night. 

Ayala made good on the extra point and the Argos again had a 13-point, 26-14 lead.  The third period ended with Anderson making a great interception on a long drive by the Argos and the Lions trusted Dinh to drive his team down the field.  Some key runs by Micheal Gurrola and Josh Avila were blended with pass receptions by Reyes, Brandon Cox and Antonio Olea and finally a 7-yard scoring rush by Anderson before Rocha’s PAT put the Lions behind, 21-26, with 9 minutes remaining.

Rocha was perfect on the night with his fourth PAT as he shared kicking duties with Fidel Santana, who placed many kickoffs in designed spots where Antunez could not get to them.

The Lions' defense showed great desire and a few penalties on the Argos helped the Lions regain some key ground. 

With just 4 minutes left in the game, Dinh tied the contest at 26 each with a 4-yard touchdown run. 

Deciding to go for 2 points on the PAT, coach Ted McMillen wanted to make sure that a field goal could not beat the Lions.  An illegal procedure nullified the short attempt anyway and the Lions now had a 27-26 lead and 4:04 seconds left on defense to try and hold Antunez to under 50 yards and keep the Argonauts out of field goal range.  

This is what it came down to. Last year’s 13-1 record for the Argos and 9-3 for the Lions was no longer relevant.  This was a new season and both teams are preparing for a long playoff run that may lead to a highly anticipated rematch. 

The Lions' defense came up big on the final drive and the Argos stalled about mid-field. 

Dinh ran out the clock for the final two plays and the huge pack of Lions in the stands went wild.