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By Jim Shilander

After a quarter and a half, the Dana Hills football team played essentially even with Trabuco Hills, a pre-season county top-10 team. Within five plays, however, the tenor of the then tied 7-7 game changed dramatically.

After Mustang quarterback Tommy Kelley sprinted in for a touchdown from 35 yards out to give the Mustangs a 14-7 lead, the Dolphins went three and out. Noah Thompson took the ensuing punt 85 yards for a score, giving the Mustangs a lead they would not relinquish, as they went on to defeat the Dolphins 31-10 at Dana Hills High School on August 30.

“They’re a South Coast League team, a Pac-5 team, we needed to play a perfect game to win,” Dana Hills head coach Todd Rusinkovich said. “We made a lot of mistakes that we’ll get corrected.”

The Dolphins lost starting running back Brian Scott during the team’s first drive, on which he accounted for 41 rushing yards on the way to the game’s first score. Quarterback Mac Vail made the key play on the drive, however, scrambling through the Mustang defense for 13 yards on fourth and 10, helping set up Andrew Dunn’s 5-yard touchdown run that opened the game’s scoring.

The loss of Brian Scott led to brother Justin stepping into the running back role, and he went for 82 yards on the night.

However, that move necessitated shuffling on the defensive side, Rusinkovich said, as did the loss of personnel in the secondary during the game.

Trabuco answered the Dolphin score on their ensuing drive, and, following the 14-point swing in the middle of the second quarter, added a 40-yard field goal at the close of the first half.

The teams continued to play even football in the third, which included both turning the ball over, and the Dolphins adding a field goal at the close of a drive that started at their own 10-yard line. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, a final would-be scoring drive ended with a Vail pass being broken up in the end-zone in the fourth quarter. On the next drive, Kelley connected with Daniel Ahrenholtz to close out the scoring with just over four minutes left.

Vail finished with 161 yards passing with one interception, with Sean Schulte accounting for 84 yards on five catches and Drew Falk with six catches for 65 yards.

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