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November 15, 2002

CSD ties Mustangs for first

From: Alameda Times-Star, CA
Nov. 15, 2002

By David Schoen STAFF WRITER
SAN LEANDRO -- All season long, the California School for the Deaf's football team has been led by its defense.

St. Elizabeth found out why Thursday night.

In a showdown with the Bay Football League crown on the line, the Eagles scored two defensive touchdowns and took advantage of every mistake St. Elizabeth made -- and there were plenty -- to earn a 36-13 victory at Burrell Field.

The win puts CSD (8-2 overall, 3-1 BFL) in a first-place tie with the Mustangs (7-3, 3-1).

"We started training camp with the goal of becoming BFL champions, and we did it," Eagles coach Kevin Bella signed through an interpreter. "We're very excited."

CSD's defense came in allowing just 142.8 yards per game. The Mustangs managed 252 as quarterback Miguel Daggs threw for 139 and two touchdowns, while running back Eddie Russaw added 85 on 19 carries.

But CSD caused two huge fumbles and returned each for a touchdown -- Francisco Gonzalez brought the first one back 7 yards for a 12-7 lead with 1:45 left in the second quarter, and David Harvey went 36 yards after a Mustangs' fumble on the third play of the second half to make it 19-7.

"They're a good team, and good teams capitalize on mistakes," said Daggs, who was held to just 23 yards on the ground. "We had a few turnovers that cost us some touchdowns at some pretty key moments."

The Mustangs got on the board first when Daggs made what could be the play of the season. On a fourth-and-9 from the CSD 12-yard line, St. Elizabeth faked a field goal. Daggs had three Eagles draped on him, but he somehow managed to stay on his feet long enough to heave a pass across the field to Bakari Grant for a touchdown.

As they did all night, though, the Eagles answered. Quarterback Clint Dickinson hit Sal Acevado for a 16-yard gain on fourth down, and one play after Chris Ivory's 17-yard reception Dickinson scooted in from 9 yards out to make it 7-6.

On the next play, Gonzalez scored his touchdown to give the Eagles a lead they would never surrender.

"We needed wolf pack defense," Harvey signed. "We never stopped. We had to be kings on the field."

After Harvey's fumble return for a score -- the linebacker led his team's defensive effort with 14 total tackles -- Val Alvardo booted a 35-yard field goal for a 22-7 CSD edge. The Mustangs came back as Daggs connected with John Forte for a 52-yard scoring strike, but Harvey brought the ensuing kickoff back 80 yards.

St. Elizabeth moved into Eagles territory at the 43 on its next possession, but was stuffed on fourth down and Dickinson capped the scoring with a 1-yard sneak.

"They really showed they wanted it and took it," St. Elizabeth coach Fred Sims said. "We wanted to concentrate on assignment football and for us to come out and make so many assignment busts is the frustrating thing."

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