Leigh rallies to beat Westmont, capture BVAL Santa Teresa-Valley title

Blake Zanger scores two rushing touchdowns as Leigh rallies to defeat Westmont.

CAMPBELL — The Leigh bench remained cool, calm, and collected.

The Longhorns, who were down seven points with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, showed no signs of panic despite the fact that their playoff hopes were on the line.

Undermanned and facing a physical Westmont team that had all the momentum on its home field, Leigh won 34-27 by stringing together two of its most important offensive drives of the season.

Blake Zanger scored rushing touchdowns on both of Leigh’s late possessions to secure a spot in the Central Coast Section playoffs and the Blossom Valley Athletic League Santa Teresa-Valley Division title.

“I’m a little shocked,” said Leigh coach Kyle Padia. “Over the last two weeks, we’ve been missing a lot of dudes. I’m so happy and proud of these guys because not many people gave us a chance.”

Leigh was missing two starters in the form of senior quarterback Tyler Donaldson and senior running back Shayan Shariat.

The Longhorns fumbled on the first play of the game Friday, allowing Westmont to score after only 43 seconds.

However, Leigh’s offense soon found its stride. Zach Pistor, a junior running back, carried a heavy load, finishing with 134 yards from scrimmage and a first-half touchdown.

Westmont tied the game at 14 late in the second quarter on a 27-yard pass from quarterback Mason Pound to wide receiver Mason Price.

Pound finished with three passing touchdowns to Price and one rushing touchdown.

Pistor’s 3-yard plunge gave Leigh a 20-14 lead with five minutes left in the third quarter. However, he sustained an arm injury that forced him to sit out the rest of the game.

Westmont scored the next 13 points, taking a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter on Pound’s 8-yard rushing touchdown through the left side of the Leigh defense.

Padia put the ball in Zanger’s hands down the stretch with his team’s season on the line.

He scored rushing touchdowns on consecutive possessions. With five minutes remaining, his 18-yard run tied the game at 27. With less than two minutes remaining, his 19-yard run up the middle put Leigh up 34-27.

“I was just super excited,” Zanger said of his chance to play in the fourth quarter. “I was hyped to get in and was just hoping I can help my team win the game.”

The Longhorns were not out of the woods yet, with 1:43 remaining.

Pound drove Westmont to the four-yard line and had a two-second chance to tie the game. The Warriors called a rollout pass to the right side of the field on the final play.

Price was open for a split second as he streaked to the left side of the end zone. When Pound threw the pass, Leigh cornerback Cam Tchir got his hands on the ball and deflected the pass, securing the victory.

“Winning this game was just such a great feeling, I’m still trying to figure out how to process it,” Lyon told reporters.

It was a crushing end to the season for Westmont, who reached the CCS playoff semifinals a year ago.

“The game of football is so tough,” said Westmont coach Mark Kaanapu. “Leigh is a good team that has previously won a championship… We only needed one play and couldn’t complete it.”

Westmont finished the season 6-4 overall and 3-2 in league play.

Leigh improved her record to 7-3, 4-1. Overfelt defeated Sobrato 30-28 to give the Longhorns the outright Santa Teresa-Valley championship. Sobrato would have shared the championship with Leigh if it had won.

“I’m just super proud that these guys came out and played like this to earn a playoff spot,” Padia said in a statement. “It would have been simple to say it’s not our night.” This is not our year. We’re missing too many guys, but no one noticed. They had all simply decided that they would do it themselves. And they succeeded.”

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