De Anza falls to Foothill 31-13, in first rivalry match since pandemic


Kevin Nguyen

De Anza Mountain Lions sophomore quarterback Jordan Ausbie heads to the locker room at halftime with his team down 31-7. The De Anza offense got off to a slow start and had big plays reversed because of penalties in the Oct. 30 home loss.

Kevin Nguyen and Daniel Arriaga

Los Altos Hills — It’s been a season of woes for the De Anza College Mountain Lions and in their most anticipated game of the season, against arch-rivals Foothill College, the contest got away from them early with a loss of 31-13 on Oct. 30. 

The Owls jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter by gashing the De Anza secondary twice for receiving touchdowns and punctuated the opening beatdown by returning a punt for a score with less than a minute left. 

“It was like a heavyweight fight,” De Anza coach Tony Santos said. “They hit us hard in the first round and then we were playing catch up the rest of the way.”

The loss dropped the Mountain Lions to a 1-7 record overall and 0-3 in conference, and the team is still searching for its first win since September. 

Line of scrimmage featuring Owls’ offense and De Anza’s defense. The Oct. 30 matchup was the first game these two rivals have played since the pandemic. (Kevin Nguyen)

“We won the second half and held them scoreless,” Santos said. “But we need to start games off faster and learn to play a complete game. That’s something we just haven’t done this year.”

Mountain Lions defensive group talking adjustments. They were routed decisively in the first quarter but held Foothill scoreless in the second half.
(Kevin Nguyen)

Things started picking up for the Mountain Lions after the first quarter with coaches reminding their team to take it “one play at a time.” Running back Cameron Rynhard and quarterback Jordan Ausbie each responded with their own 30-yard gains, but saw them both negated by penalties.

All afternoon, De Anza would frustrate its fans by following that pattern. There was no better example than in the eighth minute of the second quarter, when defensive lineman Thomas Tai forced a fumble at the one yard line, setting up what was supposed to be an easy score. 

Only the Mountain Lions would fumble the ball right back to Foothill when Santos opted to run a gadget play. 

“In hindsight, I wouldn’t have put those guys in that power formation, as they were defensive players,” Santos said. “The ball gets caught in the wind, hits our guy and we fumble. It’s been typical of the season. We just can’t catch a break.” 

The sophomore Ausbie threw for 138 yards with two touchdowns and made the highlight reel play of the day late in the second half when he evaded over five tacklers, improvising for a first down that would set up the Mountain Lions last score. 

Sophomore quarterback Jordan Ausbie completes his first of two touchdowns to receiver Rocklin Curtis. (Kevin Nguyen)

“I thought today was a pretty good day for our offense; we just needed to focus on executing more,” Ausbie said. “Our game plan was to run the ball a lot and whenever we saw that they were stopping that, that’s when we’d look at our play-action and hit the pass.”

Freshman defender Tai played an inspired game for the De Anza defense, forcing the aforementioned fumble and registering multiple tackles for losses and QB pressures. 

“Man, it’s a great feeling being able to make plays like that to help my team.” Tai said. “That adrenaline you get from balling out and helping the team in that way is a really great feeling.”

De Anza will host Feather River College Saturday,  Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. and closes out their season at Yuba College on Nov. 13, 1 p.m.

Mountain Lions wide receiver Rocklin Curtis led the team in receptions with six catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns, and linebacker Sosefo Moeaki collected a team-leading eight tackles and two sacks. 
In one half before subbing out, Foothill star quarterback Aajon Johnson added three passing touchdowns and 48 rushing yards to an already stellar season with a team record of 6-1.