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Tale of two halves for Victoria East against C.C. King

By BY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
Sept. 17, 2011 at 4:17 a.m.


After completely controlling the contest for a vast majority of the first half, Victoria East literally gave away the game after halftime.

The Titans scored the game's first 14 points on the back of senior running back Johnathan Garner, but thanks, in part, to pair of critical turnovers early in the second half, King scored 24 unanswered points en route to a 24-21 victory at Memorial Stadium on Friday evening.

Trailing 14-7 at the halftime, the Mustangs stampeded out of the locker room, scoring on a 65-yard run on the first play from scrimmage to tie the score.

On the ensuing kickoff, Garner lost a fumble, setting up a short drive for the Mustangs, who claimed their first lead of the game at 21-14 with 6:20 left in the quarter.

Four snaps later, East turned the ball over again as Gustavo De Los Santos fumbled at the King 43-yard line.

In the fourth quarter, King extended its lead to 24-14 on a field goal off the turnover, and East could not make up the difference.

According to Titans head coach Mickey Finley, the lost fumbles, while costly, were simply part of the game.

"Turnovers happen," the coach said. "They happen in the NFL, and they happen everywhere else.

"It is just a deal where we have to work on controlling the football and holding on to the football better. None of it was from a lack of effort though."

After dominating the time-of-possession battle in the first half, there was a complete role reversal after halftime.

East (2-2) held the ball for less than two minutes during the third quarter and put together just one drive of significance in the entire second half as Garner ran in for his third touchdown of the game with 5:16 remaining to bring the Titans within three points at 24-21.

Garner - who was named homecoming king prior to kickoff - finished with a game-high 114 yards on 23 carries and all three of the Titans' touchdowns.

"(My performance) was pretty good, but I couldn't have done it by myself," Garner said. "I give all the credit to our (offensive) line."

The Titans stopped King (3-1) on the following possession, giving them a chance to tie or win the game, but, with just 2:13 left on the clock, could not muster a scoring drive.

"There are little things (junior quarterback Brandon Salazar) hasn't worked on, like preserving time at the end of the game, but that is not his fault. That is my fault," Finley said. "We weren't ready for that."

East opened the game by punctuating a 13-play drive on Garner's first of two first-half touchdowns with 5:53 left in the quarter.

The Titans continued their dominance throughout the quarter, limiting King to just three plays in the opening 12 minutes.

After maintaining possession into the second period, East's second drive stalled, and the Titans punted, but it did not take long to get the ball back.

East's defense forced a second consecutive three-and-out on the ensuing possession, setting up Garner's second touchdown. The Titans covered 61 yards on the drive as Garner scored on a three-yard run.

With less than five minutes left in the opening half, King recorded its first first down of the game on Julian Bost's 5-yard carry.

A few minutes later, Mustangs' senior running back Rodolfo Alonzo crossed the goal line to cut East's advantage in half, 14-7, with 1:22 left in the second quarter.

Garner flourished in the first half, running for 95 yards on 14 carries. The Titans posted a total of 182 yards - all rushing - to King's 51 over the first 24 minutes.

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