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    Foothill football stuns Villa Park in Crestview League opener with rousing finish
    • October 13, 2023

    ORANGE — A gutsy decision by Foothill football coach Doug Case to go for a 2-point conversion after Aaron Mitchell’s 2-yard touchdown run with under two minutes remaining in the game proved to be the difference in the Knights’ 22-21, come from behind victory over previously undefeated Villa Park in a Crestview League opener Thursday at El Modena High School.

    Mitchell’s scoring run was the highlight of a 53-yard scoring drive that featured huge completions from Foothill quarterback Nicholas Miali and a wild play in which possession changed twice.

    Miali ran in the winning 2-point conversion following Mitchell’s touchdown.

    Foothill quarterback Nicholas Miali (10) completed 11 of 22 passes for 162 yards and ran in the game-winning 2-point conversion in the Knights’ 22-21 victory over Villa Park on Thursday, Oct. 12, at El Modena High School. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)

    “We’re on the road, we’re fighting for a league title,” Case said. “There was no doubt in my mind we were going for two right then. We had momentum, the kids were fired up, we’ve been a great second-half team. They were tired at the end. Mitchell just scored on an easy jab, so we just faked it to Mitchell, and Miali ran it in for the 2-pointer.”

    With Crestview League teams playing only three league games, one more victory for the Knights (5-3, 1-0) can almost guarantee a playoff berth.

    The Spartans (7-1, 0-1), who are ranked No. 10 in Orange County, need to pick up a victory next week in a home contest against Yorba Linda.

    In the game-winning drive, the Knights had possession on the Spartans’ 34 when Mialli completed a 30-yard pass to the 4.

    But the ball was fumbled and picked up by Jacob Johnson of Villa Park, who ran 30 yards before fumbling the ball back to the Knights.

    Foothill faced a fourth-and-9 from the Spartans 32 when Miali completed a 17-yard pass to Jack Zerkel, and that was followed by an 11-yard completion to Connor Pietras.

    Mitchell scored two plays later, setting up the winning 2-point conversion.

    Villa Park took over at its 20 with 1:49 remaining and in a position to win the game with a field goal.

    But Foothill safety Bode Jellerson put an end to that possibility with an interception with 46 seconds remaining.

    An interception by Foothill safety Bode Jellerson (3) with 49 seconds remaining sealed the Knights’ 22-21 victory over Villa Park in a Crestview LEague opener Thursday, Oct. 12, at El Modena High School. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)

    “We put in a cover four drop back because we knew we’d probably find ourselves in a situation like this,” Jellerson said. “They had a little bit of time in the pocket. It was probably bound to get intercepted if it took them that long to get it off. It was definitely a pop fly. We were locked in on the football.”

    Vince Lagatta’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Spencer Jarrel gave Villa Park a 6-0 lead in the first quarter.

    Lagatta then connected with Carter Christie for a 9-yard score, making the score 14-0 after the successful 2-point conversion.

    On the ensuing kickoff, Jacob Williams recovered a fumble for the Spartans on the Foothill 23 and it appeared as though the Spartans would add to their lead.

    But the momentum changed quickly when Foothill’s Bryce Perkins intercepted a third-down pass at the 1 and returned it 91 yards.

    Aaron Mitchell scored on a 4-yard run three plays later to make the score 14-7.

    The Knights forced a punt and then Miali then scored on a 1-yard run on the final play of the first half to tie the score.

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    ​ Orange County Register