YUCCA VALLEY – A year after Yucca Valley Joshua Springs beat the Cal Lutheran football team so handily that the fourth quarter was cancelled, the C-Hawks fared a little better in the rematch. But just a little.
After hammering Cal Lutheran in last year's CIF Southern Section Division II eight-man championship game, Joshua Springs handed the C-Hawks a 66-22 defeat in this year's semifinal round Friday night. Though the game went all four quarters, it was played with a running clock for the final 12 minutes.
C-Hawks coach Dave Peter attributed key mistakes in the first half to the rout.
Trailing 20-14 early in the second quarter, Cal Lutheran forced the Lightning (10-1) to punt. But the C-Hawks (8-4) fumbled the ball away two plays later on their 11, setting up the first of six touchdown runs by Joshua Springs' Greg Lindblom.
The Lightning followed that scored with touchdowns on their next five possessions.
"Game changing plays like that, you can't be on the wrong end of, and unfortunately we were," Peter said. "We don't have that fumble, we actually play tough (defense), it's a game."
Joshua Springs coach Isaac Hagerman saw the fumble as a key, as well.
"That was a momentum-turner for us," he said. "We're not playing as good as we could, and that definitely got us excited and fired up a little bit and I think took a little bit out of the winds of their sails."
The fumble wasn't Cal Lutheran's only mistake.
"We pretty much gave up three touchdowns in the first half to our own mistakes," Peter said. "We preached all week that we have to be disciplined. We cannot have mental mistakes, which we did. And that led to three scores in that first half. ... A guy being out of position by 2 yards makes a big difference against speed."
Lindblom, who ran for 245 yards on 18 carries, also caught a scoring pass.
"Defensively, we allowed ourselves to be pushed around a little too much," Peter said. "They're the fastest team that we've seen this year, and our guys kind of were flat-footed to begin with, and you can't do that against speed like that."
The C-Hawks, who got a 55-yard touchdown run by Noah Schriefer in the first quarter and a 14-yard touchdown run by Matt Correia in the second, didn't score again until the fourth quarter, when Weston Dryrssen caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Phillip Harrison.
The Lightning defense kept the C-Hawks from breaking many long plays, limiting them to 171 yards on the ground.
"They definitely came out with a great game plan, but our defensive coordinator adjusted and was able to come up with some big stops," Hagerman said.
Joshua Springs will face Spring Valley Lake Excelsior Education Center in the final next week.