SANTA CLARITA >> He was hit. Rocked. Punished.
By the end of Friday night’s Foothill League matchup against crosstown rival Canyon, Hart quarterback Nick Moore looked like he had gone 12 rounds.
But Moore never stayed down.
Despite facing pressure that saw him fumble and get tackled for a safety, Moore’s poise and confidence never wavered, leading Hart to a 28-22 comeback victory over Canyon after trailing 16-0 after the first quarter.
Moore completed 5 of 9 passes for 69 yards and rushed for all four of Hart’s touchdowns, including the go-ahead 3-yard run with 8:53 left in the game. Moore also threw an interception, but his ground game of 13 carries for 103 yards laid the groundwork for Hart to mount its comeback.
“We couldn’t do what we wanted to do really in the first quarter,” Moore said. “But we figured it out in the second quarter and the second half. The linemen did a really great job of just opening up huge holes, and it’s really easy to run through huge holes to do what I can to put it in the end zone.”
In the first half it seemed as though Moore was going to have nightmares about Canyon linebacker Riely Ward, who was able to break through the Hart offensive line early and often. Ward forced a fumble and then the sack in the end zone for a safety and a 9-0 lead at the 5:28 mark in the first quarter.
“You can’t just think that the game is over, especially being down early in the first quarter,” Moore said. “That’s just one quarter, and there’s three more. That should give you a reason to ant to play all of them. We kept our heads high and our defense stepped up.”
Canyon (4-3, 0-2) for much of the game dictated the pace on the offensive end with running back Henry Arellano, who had 18 carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Arellano had his first touchdown on the second drive that was followed by quarterback Miles Fallon connecting with Camden Apsay for 24 yards for a 16-0 lead.
“We are able to do some things well in the first half,” Canyon coach Rich Gutierrez said. “But you got to make plays when they count, and we did not do that tonight.”
After Arellano scored on a 7-yard touchdown run to make the score 22-13 in the third, it only took Moore three plays to answer, using a 54-yard run to set up his own 10-yard touchdown run to close within 22–20 and send the Hart student section into a frenzy.
The Hart defense also seemed inspired.
On the following possession, Da’Von Jones picked off Fallon and returned it 32 yards to set up Moore’s fourth and deciding touchdown.
“Honestly as any DB gets a pick, all they want to go for is a pick six, and that’s what I was going for,” Jones said. “I see my blocker right in front of me and the last person for me to beat was the quarterback. But then behind him I didn’t see the other defender and he was able to push me out of bounds. I’m glad I did my part and the offense got it back and scored on the field.
Apsay who had seven receptions for 121 yards for Canyon, including a spectacular one-handed diving catch for 29 yards in the second quarter. Not to be outdone, Apsay also intercepted one of Moore’s passes.
Hart moves to 5-2 including 1-1 in conference play with the win and will face West Ranch next week.
Canyon fell to 4-3 and will play Golden Valley.
Before the game fans and players from both teams bound their heads in silence to honor Steve Owen of Lancaster who was killed in the line of duty earlier this week well responding to a burglary call. During the game the student sections from both teams were dressed in pink to honor the fight against breast cancer.