Irvine triumphs despite ‘amazing’ effort by Western, Munoz – Orange County Register

IRVINE – All night long, Irvine’s defense tried to figure out a way to stop Western quarterback Anthony Munoz, who had a stellar performance, passing for 479 yards and four touchdowns Friday night at Irvine.

The Vaqueros finally made the defensive stand when they really needed it, and held on for a wild 42-35 nonleague victory over the Pioneers.

Western (1-2) got to the Irvine 20-yard line with 1:15 left in the game but the Vaqueros defended well and Munoz and the Pioneers were unable to advance the ball any further. Munoz, a junior, wound up with 36 completions in 55 attempts and had two interceptions.

After passing for 233 yards in the first half, Munoz helped the Pioneers cut the lead to 42-35 on a 7-yard touchdown pass to Rahsaan Hester with 3:08 remaining.

Western then recovered the onside kick to give the Pioneers a chance to come back and tie the score.

“It was an amazing performance by all of us,” said Munoz. “We believed in each other and at halftime, had the right mindset. We were able to fight back. We came up a little short but I’m proud of my guys.”

“We had some missed assignments in the first half defensively but I thought Anthony said it best where we didn’t quit and we kept going,” added Western coach Dan Davidson. “We made a couple of halftime adjustments and our defensive coordinator did a great job at halftime to stop some of the things they were doing.

“The kids’ confidence at halftime was pretty magical. We felt the entire time we were going to win this game at the end. I’m very proud of those guys and honored to be their coach. I felt the boys deserved to get the win.”

The score was tied, 28-28, after three quarters. But Irvine moved ahead when quarterback Marc Filia connected with Bryce Tanikawa on a 32-yard TD pass with 6:53 left in the game.

Filia wound up with 185 yards passing and two touchdowns.

“That was a great play by him (Tanikawa),” Filia said. “If it weren’t for the guys up front to give me the time and him making a great catch, none of that would have happened.”

The Vaqueros (2-1) got a little…

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