By FRANK BURLISON
SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER
TUSTIN Michael Lilly hadn´t played for the Tustin football team since suffering a broken right hand during a season-opening victory over Foothill on Sept. 2. Tustin coach Myron Miller couldn´t have been more pleased - and relieved - to have Lilly back in uniform No. 2 on Thursday night.
The officiating crew met briefly and then ruled that Lilly had out-wrestled Valencia wide receiver Andres Sandoval for an interception of Jesse Godoy´s fourth-down pass at the Tustin 41-yard line with 1:34 remaining in the Empire League game. Quarterback Quinnton Roberson then took four snaps and knees to secure the host Tillers´ 10-6 victory.
Miller´s team (4-3, 2-1) held a 3-0 advantage deep into the fourth quarter. But the Tigers (1-6, 1-2), after starting at the Tustin 40 with 7:12 remaining following a short punt, needed just six plays to go in front on junior Gabriel Perez´s 3-yard run three minutes later. That´s when senior running back Tyler Siudzinski - and his offensive line - went to work for the Tillers.
Facing a fourth-and-3 at their own 43, the Tillers extended the possession on an 8-yard run over the left side by Siudzinski. On the next play, Siudzinski took a pitch on the right side from Roberson, got a freeing block to get around the line of scrimmage and, with Sandoval the last Tiger within arm´s reach, sprinted unencumbered over the final 30 yards of the 49-yard score with 2:21 remaining; Adrian Hernandez tacking on the conversion.
Both Lilly and Miller conceded afterward that a loss would have eliminated the program´s postseason aspirations. "Mike Marrujo is a great coach and we knew we would get a tough game out of them tonight," Miller said. "I thought we were controlling the game (most of the way) but we couldn´t get any points.´´ The Tillers picked up the first half´s only points when Hernandez booted a 22-yard field goal two seconds before intermission.
Roberson connected on his only completion of the half - for 38 yards to Lilly - to put the ball on the Valencia 16 with 2:52 remaining. But the Tillers were hit with a personal foul on a dead-ball situation, and then saw Roberson´s scoring run from 28 yards out negated because of a holding penalty.