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High School Football:
Mustangs Outlast Holy Cross In Opener

Saturday, September 18, 1999

By Greg Alvord
SJSports Staff Writer

Here at Lancer Field, Holy Cross hosting Mainland squared off in a slugfest that would rival Oscar Delahoya versus Felix Trinadad. In an intensely played, wild affair, it was the Mustangs of Mainland edging the Lancers of Holy Cross 44-41. On a beautiful day that was made for football, the packed house was treated to the kind of football that would make Papa Bear George Halas smile.

The two clubs started the game like two fighters attacking one another. After trading possessions, Holy Cross was forced to punt, but the ball was snapped over the punters head for a safety and a 2-0 Mainland lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Justin Cantell dazzled the coverage and pin balled his way 50-yards to the Lancers twenty. A couple of plays later, Joe Weiss plunged in from three yards out to give the Mustangs a 9-0 lead. Momentum was now on the Mainland side. On the next series, the Mustangs were covering the field like their nickname implies. Flying all over the field the defense, led by big Jon Hanlin, forced a crucial turnover. Holy Cross dropped to pass and as Hanlin was just about to sack Lancer quarterback Jason Amer, Amer let the pass loose into the flat, where ball-hawking Joel Candelario picked it off and glided into the endzone for a shocking 16-0 lead.

The stunned Lancers could have packed it in but came right back. The Lancers used standout wideout Isaac Irby (4 TDs, 200+ receiving yards) to lead their charge. A number of fine passes to Irby ended with a 35-yard streak down the sideline for Holy Cross' first touchdown. The Mustangs couldn't be stopped on offense. Mainland drove right down the field led by quarterback Mike Granieri. A flair pass to R.J. Lindquist completed the drive and gave Mainland a 23-6 lead. Holy Cross went right back where they left off...passing to Irby. A couple of Lynn Swann type of catches by Irby, one for 49-yards to the Mainland one, sparked the Lancers. Amer popped in from the one and the conversion cut Mainland's lead to 23-14. On the next possession, a fired up Lancer defense had Mainland on a third and two from their own 20-yard line. With the momentum ready to switch to the Lancer's advantage, Mainland's Lindquist did a tremendous Bronco Nagursky impression. Running off tackle, Holy Cross hit Lindquist at the line for an apparent stop, but Lindquist kept those legs churning and broke tackles like he was covered in butter. Eighty yards later, he was in the endzone that gave the Mustangs a 30-14 lead. On the next possession the Lancers charged right back with Amer, Irby and wideout Matt Chambers leading the way. Chambers finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown catch to make the score at the half 30-20 in favor of Mainland.

The second half started with a pop. Irby took the kick and zigzagged 95-yards for an electrifying touchdown. The crowd was pumped with the score 30-28. The defense turned in on the third quarter as the two clubs traded punts.

The final quarter began with the linemen of Mainland controlling the play. Mike Goldberg, Freddie Morowitz, Richard Knupp and Hanlin opened up huge holes as Jeremy Cantell finished the methodical drive with a 5-yard run to give Mainland a 37-28 advantage. On the next series, Irby caught an inside screen who dashed and dazzled his way 95-yards for the score to pull his team with three points. With time ticking away, Mainland was faced with a fourth and two from the Lancer's thirty. In a John Riggins impersonation, Cantell broke through the stacked line and scored to make the count 44-34. Holy Cross proved true to form and came right back to score as, guess who, Irby scored from 3-yards out to pull to 44-41. Time ran out on the Lancers in this highly entertaining game as it ended in favor of the visiting Mainland.

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