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Bruins' Pistol Begins To Fire

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Bruins Shoot down High Flying Sun Devils for a share of Pac-12 Lead

By Gary Montgomery, BVN Staff –

Pasadena – A little more than a year ago, Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow announced their intent to introduce the piston as their new offense.

Their announcement was met with a good degree of humor. As you can imagine there were all types of gun related humorous comments thrown out and until now most of them well deserved.

The first year’s results saw scant improvement over the previous two years when UCLA averaged a mere 17 and 22 points per game respectively. As a matter of fact, the offense’s initial lack of success likely cost Norm Chow his job.

But on Saturday, after defeating 18th ranked Arizona State and riding a two game winning streak, the Bruins were giddy beyond belief. Rick Neuheisel was jumping around like a teenager and yelling at anyone who would listen.

“We’re getting better. We’re making some plays. Credit to everyone - coaches and players alike. We’re getting better and gaining more confidence. I can’t say enough about everyone’s effort,” said a jubilant Neuheisel.

Although the Sun Devils had 10 more first downs, more passing yards, slightly more total yards and more third down conversions, the Bruins were able to execute a near perfect final drive and then hold Arizona’s offense and force them to miss a final field goal to secure their fourth Pac-12 win and a share of first place.

With the win, UCLA, USC and Arizona State are tied for the top spot in the Pac-12’s South division. And even more amazing, with USC ineligible for conference play and UCLA holding the advantage over ASU by virtue of their win, UCLA could emerge as the South division representative to the first ever Pac-12 championship game. Obviously, UCLA has the formidable task of winning its last three games against Utah, Colorado and USC but that’s all that separates them from getting back to the top.

“It’s a gut-wrenching loss for this football team. You have to give UCLA credit, but we had so many opportunities in the second half to either put it away or to win it,” said Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson.

Visibly bothered by his teams’ second half ineptitude, Erickson continued to recap his team’s miscues throughout his post game comments. UCLA turned the ball over twice on key possessions and the Sun Devils failed to convert either turnover into points.

Conversely, UCLA’s beleaguered quarterback Kevin Prince gathered his team and completed a 10 play 79-yard drive capped off by a 3-yard Derric Coleman touchdown run. The Bruins used 5:07 off the clock during the drive and recaptured the lead by a single point.

When their 2-point conversion attempt failed leaving 42 seconds between another painful loss or Rick Neuheisel’s biggest win as Bruins’ head Coach, UCLA chose the latter but not without some serious nail biting.

On a 3rd down play with 30 seconds remaining in the game, the Bruins’ Aaron Hester was flagged for pass interference advancing the ball to the UCLA 41-yard line. With 09 seconds remaining, ASU quarterback Brock Osweller completed a 12-yard pass to wide receiver Gerelle Robinson moving the ball to the UCLA 29-yard line and setting up Arizona’s Alex Garoutte with a 46-yard attempt to win the game.

Garoutte’s kick had no chance and landed short of the end zone sparking a raucous Bruins’ celebration.

“You will see more of the same. We are going to go out there, give it everything we have and win more games like today,” said Bruin’s wide receiver Nelson Rosario.

The Bruins are steadily improving. There is no question about that but there should be some cushion. A close examination of Saturday’s game statics reveals an interesting truth. A single stat line 0-3. The Sun Devils missed three field goal attempts which means their coach was right “they gave it away”.

G. Montgomery can be reached at sports@blackvoicenews.com

L.A. Galaxy Wins the West, MLS Cup Within Reach

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By Gary Montgomery, BVN Sports –

Carson - In front of a high energy full house and a national ESPN audience, the Los Angeles Galaxy completed a clean sweep at home, by beating Real Salt Lake 3-1.

The Galaxy will host the MLS Cup at the Home Depot Center, against the Houston Dynamo, on November 20th.

Coach Bruce Arena knew the Western Conference Final would not be a walk over. Real Salt Lake, known for it’s strong transition game, would be formidable. The Galaxy players, riding an undefeated home winning streak, admitted to the pressure of winning at home and getting through these decisive matches.

Interrupted by U.S. National Team commitments, injuries and the grind of the lengthy MLS season, the Los Angeles Galaxy, as a team, take care of business when it counts.

Key Galaxy players like Landon Donovan (Redlands East Valley H.S.) and international soccer icon, David Beckham garnered their share of the headlines, but the Galaxy would benefit by the feet of some of it’s go to role players as well.

Landon Donovan buried a penalty kick into the net and the Galaxy took a 1-0 lead halfway through the first half. The Galaxy were keeping their shape on the field, forcing RSL into the middle. RSL’s Alvaro Saborio took advantage of what was given and abruptly tied the game two minutes later.

The 1-1 tie would hold until halftime. The second half would bring a wide open game that featured quality saves from keepers Nick Rimando (Montclair) and the Galaxy’s Josh Saunders.

Saunders, filling in for the injured Donovan Ricketts, has been solid all season. His elevated play at goaltending has been an added plus to the solid roster. That’s saying a lot for anyone replacing Ricketts who was the ”Keeper of the Year” last season.

It would be a Mike Magee header in the 58th minute that would put the Galaxy ahead. Rimando had no chance, as the ball was crossed with precision, from the right foot of David Beckham. Magee took the cross onto his forehead, directly in front of the RSL keeper and delivered.

Real Salt Lake forwards continued to test Saunders throughout the second half, but the Galaxy defenders were up to the task. Robbie Kean gave the Galaxy a two goal margin by scoring in the 70th minute to seal the 3-1 victory.

With their home winning streak intact, the Galaxy players stepped up to the podium as Landon Donovan hoisted the Western Conference Champion’s trophy.

This match was their third postseason victory in eight days. The two-week break will suit them well, as they prepare for the Houston Dynamo and the battle for the MLS Cup on November 20th.

L.A. Galaxy over New York 1-0; Take MLS Playoff driver's Seat

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By Alex Gaede, BVN Sports –

Last Sunday, the Galaxy gained their 1-0 win in New York during the first leg of the MLS Cup’s Western Conference semifinals.

Midfielder Mike Magee, in the 15th minute of the contest and off a David Beckham assist, netted the game’s only goal. New York took priority in possession after the goal, but LA’s organized defense and the in form goalkeeper Josh Saunders, protected their goal.

After the final whistle, New York star defender Rafael Márquez decided to throw a ball at Redlands native, Landon Donovan. After mass pushing and shoving by both teams, Márquez and LA’s Juninho received a red card. The two were banned from the second leg.

The New York Redbulls are in LA to play the second and final leg tonight at the Home Depot Center (8pm). After tonight, the team with the most aggregate goals will advance to the Western Conference final.

Blackhawks Roll on 30-24 over Banning

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By Jon D. Gaede, BVN Sports –

Redlands - Citrus Valley Coach Pete Smolin must be pleased as he has watched his Blackhawks grow from young undersized sophomores, into the school’s first senior class. Along with that size, speed and experience, the victories have also come.

Citrus Valley, the newest high school in Redlands, currently plays in the Mountain Valley League. At 3-0 (7-1) overall, they hold down first place, along with league rival Rubidoux. The two schools will collide with each other on the Blackhawk’s home field in two-weeks.

The visiting Banning Broncos gave Citrus Valley all they could handle on Friday night. Banning kick returner Styrone Hairston ran back the opening kickoff 96-yards for a Bronco touchdown. On the first Blackhawk offensive series, Junior quarterback Dalton Douglass marched his squad down the field to even the score. At 6-2, Douglass possesses a canon arm, but used his legs on this drive with runs of 40 and 22-yards. The latter for a score.

Banning took a narrow 21-20 lead at halftime. Early in the third quarter, the Blackhawk nose-tackle Stanley Glass pinned the Broncos in their own end zone for a safety. That gave the Blackhawks a thin lead at 22-21.

The Blachawks then proceeded to deliver a pounding running game that the Broncos had no answer for. Led by tailbacks Andrew Gonzales and Jason Snow, the duo combined for 240 yards on 40 carries on the night. Gonzales has 160 of those yards.

In the games final moments, quarterback Dalton Douglass took a hard hit and was replaced by able quarterback Justin Lopez. With 50 seconds left on the clock, Lopez calmly launched a 32-yard pass to a leaping Jason Snow, who caught the ball in the far left corner of the end zone to preserve the Blackhawk victory.

Citrus Valley celebrated their initial Homecoming as a school. The class of 2012 will be their initial graduating senior class.

Rancho Verde Rolls Over Vista De Lago

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Neiborhood Rivals but programs are worlds apart

By Gary Montgomery, BVN Staff –

Rancho Verde High School has quietly built one of the elite programs in the area. Friday night’s runaway victory over intercity rival Vista Del Lago highlighted two programs with vastly different views and expectations.

The Mustangs are currently ranked number 1 in the Central Valley Division and number 3 in the overall polls. It’s football team has dominated the Inland Valley League since its inception.

Although MapQuest list the two campuses as only .9 miles apart that distance could be measured in light years when talking about athletics. Rancho Verde scored 9 touchdowns against the Ravens in nearly every way possible.

The Ravens offense managed to cross the 50- yard line only one time and that possession ended shortly after in a turnover. There was never any serious scoring threat coming from the Ravens.

“The offensive line was on tonight. Carlos was putting the ball on the numbers and all the receivers had to do was catch it,” said Mustang star receiver Damorea Stringfellow.

A relatively new school, Rancho Verde opened in 1991. The Mustangs have amassed and impressive list of alum’s. Starting in 1996, Larry Ned the outstanding running was first to reach the NFL. After starring at San Diego State Ned was drafted by the Raiders and later played for the Vikings.

After Ned, there was Da’Mon Cromartie Smith from the class of 2005 who was drafted by the Steelers.

The class of 2006 produced D’Aundre Reed the outstanding Arizona State defensive end and a 2011 draft pick by the Vikings.

The 2008 class launched offensive tackle Tyron Smith who went on to star for 3 years at USC and became the Cowboys first pick in the 2011 draft. And in 2010, defensive end Ronald Powell joined the Florida Gators.

“We have 18 players currently playing Division 1 college football. Corona Centennial has 13,” said Rancho Verde Head Coach Pete Duffy.

Coach Duffy’s comparison is interesting.

Corona Centennial’s football program has become the standard of excellence for the Southern Section.

Rancho Verde’s alumni status and win-loss records are all comparable yet they are barely mentioned in that conversation.

The 2011 Mustangs appear to be ready to take that next step and join Centennial as a standard of excellence. They have certainly proven that they belong in the conversation.

G. Montgomery can be reached at sports@blackvoicenews.com

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BVN National News Wire