West Ranch’s Nathan Dongo (5) pumps up his teammates on Oct. 29 at College of the Canyons. Kyle Kawamoto/Canyons News

The West Ranch football team faced Hart on Friday, Oct. 29, and the Wildcats had one main goal: To win and take away the pain of a loss that the team had to endure the previous week.

West Ranch achieved their goal and beat Hart, 21-16, in the Foothill League finale.

One of the major differences was that the teams got to play at College of the Canyons. They played at COC since the Saugus vs. Valencia game was canceled due to a high number of cases of COVID-19 on the Valencia football team. 

In the first quarter, there was a struggle. West Ranch quarterback Ryan Staub was having a difficult time leading his team to first downs. Conversely, it seemed that Hart had more of a drive to win the ball game in the very beginning. 

Hart scored one touchdown and kicked a field goal in the second quarter. Within the first five minutes of the second quarter, Hart’s Carlos Lopez kicked a 26-yard field goal, putting his team up by three points. Then, with seven minutes to go in the first, Hart’s Donovan Dunn scored a touchdown with a 15-yard rush. 

With the challenges that West Ranch faced, there were the questions of what would come out of this game and if it would be a repeat of what happened during the last game.

West Ranch’s Joey Sullivan (60) tries to stop Hart players on Oct. 29 at College of the Canyons. Kyle Kawamoto/Canyons News

There was a difference in energy coming from the Wildcats’ locker room. The Wildcats showed their determination to come back and take the victory into their own hands. 

“We really needed it. We were a little stifled in the first half, just kind of set the challenge to the offensive line that we have to get the running game going,” Wilcats head coach Chris Varner said. “We bust out the big run, defense comes up big. That’s just what we needed to do.”

The Wildcats soon delivered that message.

Staub had a 65-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Hart soon tried to make its way back to keep itself ahead on the scoreboard.  But it was soon stopped by West Ranch’s defense when the ball was intercepted on their own 46-yard line.

Hart’s Carlo Lopez (9) breaks into the end zone on Oct. 29 at College of the Canyons. Kyle Kawamoto/Canyons News

Hart came into a situation with the fourth quarter and tried to get the first down, but could not connect. The D-line of the Wildcats was on top of its game when it came down to shutting down the offense from making any progress to get to the end zone.  

With eight minutes left to go, Staub found Chaz Hilst for a 12-yard touchdown, increasing West Ranch’s lead to 21-10.

From the beginning of the game to the ending of the game, Hart’s offense showed a decline in strength.   

West Ranch’s Derek Miranda (21) celebrates after grabbing an interception on Oct. 29 at College of the Canyons. Kyle Kawamoto/Canyons News

In the end, West Ranch claimed its victory after losing to Saugus in the previous game, but Hart did lead in the total amount of plays and first downs. 

West Ranch’s season continued into the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs, but the Wildcats lost to Lawndale, 34-14, in the opening round.

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