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Aquinas Tops Citrus Valley in CIF First Round Playoffs

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Citrus Valley’s stingy defense could not stop Aquinas running back Burrell Handy as he scored twice to beat the Blackhawks 19-9 this past Friday night.

The evenly matched teams battled each other on the line of scrimmage during the first half, as Aquinas took a narrow 3-2 lead going into halftime.

Citrus Valley, fielding senior players for the first time, have come a long way since their initial meeting, two years ago. In that regular season game, the Falcons ran up 74 unanswered points against the Blackhawks.

Both teams entered the rematch with impressive 2011 records, Aquinas at (8-2) and Citrus Valley at (9-1). The narrow margin of the first half score would bear that out.

That score would hold until the fourth quarter when Senior Blackhawk running back Andrew Gonzales had a series of nifty runs to put his team into the red zone. Moments later, quarterback Justin Lopez ran the ball over the goal line for a 9-3 lead.

After stopping the Aquinas offense, Citrus Valley marched down the field behind the running of Andrew Gonzales and an impressive offensive line. The Blackhawks were poised to add another touchdown, when Gonzales fumbled on the Falcon’s 10- yard line. Blayne Rojas scooped up the loose ball and ran it back to the Blackhawk’s 22.

Player of the game, Burrell Handy took over from there, scoring from 20-yards out with only 40 seconds on the clock.

Citrus Valley started another drive and was moving down the field when Handy, once again, rose to the occasion and intercepted a Dalton Douglass pass for another touchdown. Final score 19-9.

Beyond the numbers, this CIF playoff football game had its share of unusual aspects. Starting with the first quarter, Aquinas coaches were able to bend the ear of the officials and demand penalties for what they perceived as aggressive play from Citrus Valley.

This tactic worked well, as some 25 personal fouls were called on the Blackhawks during the game. Not only did the Blackhawks walked backwards for what seemed like hundreds of yards, the excessive yellow flags definitely disrupted the natural flow of play.

Emotions can get the best of young players, no question, however, this CIF football contest was constantly disrupted by the adults who are hired to protect players as well as let them play the game. Unfortunately, Aquinas coaches refused to allow their players to shake the hands of their opponents, after the game.

Aquinas will travel this week to face Paraclete of Lancaster, in CIF’s second round.

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