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Vista pulls away late for 54-33 win over Cordova

Dominick Norris scores four touchdowns to lead the offense
By: Matt Long
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Vista del Lago gave up five touchdowns and 33 points, but ironically enough, it was a defensive play that broke the game open Friday night against Cordova.

Senior cornerback Daniel Dias, who earlier in the game blocked a pair of extra points, picked off a pass and returned it 35 yards for a score, putting the Eagles in front by two scores, 46-33, early in the fourth quarter.

Less than two minutes later, Ryan Tung returned a punt 46 yards for another touchdown, as the Eagles went on to win the game, 54-33.

For Dias, it was his second pick-six in as many home games for the Eagles.

“It’s insane to get another one,” Dias said of his interception return for a touchdown. “I never thought I’d get two in a season. The pass was underthrown, and it was easy to catch.”

It was Cordova’s passing game that kept them in the game. All five of their touchdowns came through the air, as the Eagles had trouble guarding and tackling Cordova’s speedy receivers.

“They have some good guys that were hard to cover,” Dias admitted. “They were quick.”

Vista turnovers helped Cordova stay in the game as well. The Eagles had two turnovers in the first half, and the Lancers turned those into 14 points. Trailing 21-14, Vista scored its third touchdown on a 26-yard run from Dominick Norris, his third of four scores in the first half. Norris started the scoring with a six-yard touchdown run and later found the end zone on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Grant Patterson. His last touchdown of the half, coming on a five-yard run, gave the Eagles the lead for good, 28-21.

Cordova scored first in the second half to come within one point, but Dias came off the corner to blocked the extra point and keep the Eagles in front.
“I came off the edge unblocked and just used my speed to get there,” Dias said. “It’s the same way I blocked the second one.”

Patterson’s second touchdown pass, this one to Chad Wilson, was good for 53 yards to put Vista up 34-27. Once again, the Lancers came within a point of the lead with their final touchdown near the midway point of the third quarter, but Dias stepped up again and blocked the conversion attempt.

Nate Hollingshaus’ 12-yard touchdown reception from Patterson with 3:30 to play in the quarter put the Eagles up by seven, 40-33. Dias and Tung added the final two scores in the fourth quarter.

“We were not good early to capitalize on their mistakes, but we did a better job of that in the second half,” Vista coach Mike Struebing said.

Struebing praised the play of Dias.

“Daniel is a player,” Struebing said. “We thought we had something special with him last year, and he grew up a lot and that gave him confidence for this season. We have put him in positions where he can take advantage and he’s been doing that.”