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Atwater cashes in on miscues

Atwater learned its lesson.

After squandering a 13-0 halftime lead a week ago, Bob Valladao's squad wasn't about to make the same mistake against Golden Valley.

Staked to 9-0 lead after two quarters -- despite only 75 total yards of offense -- Valladao had his troops fired up for the second half.

Sparked by the hard running of Dexter Coward and the nimble feet of Nathan Sanchez, Atwater ran off 159 yards and four scores in just over 9 minutes, breaking open a 38-12 victory over GV.

"Last week we didn't come out hard in the second half and we lost by a point," Coward said. "This week, we wanted to make sure we finished things."

Coward helped light Atwater's fire with a vicious hit just before the half.

Golden Valley (0-5, 0-1 CCC) had marched to Atwater's 8-yard line and appeared poised to score with 30 seconds left in the second quarter.

GV quarterback Matt Martin bootlegged to his left on first-and-goal.

Coward blitzed from the weak side and drove his helmet into Martin's chest just as he planted to throw.

The sack knocked Martin out of the game for a play and all but killed GV's drive.

"I like to think I sparked it," Coward said with a grin. "We were a little dead and needed something to wake us up."

Coward's legs served as a catalyst in the second half.

After a 38-yard touchdown run by Sanchez put Atwater (2-2, 1-0 CCC) up 16-0, Coward turned a broken play into a 46-yard score on the next drive.

The senior finished with 99 yards on 12 carries and two TDs.

A 5-yard Elliot Williams fumble return and a 3-yard Angel Molina touchdown run gave Atwater a commanding 38-0 lead.

"We didn't really do anything different in the second half," Valladao said. "We kept running the same stuff.

"The O-line got a little more of a push and some of our playmakers calmed down and found a little extra space."

For GV, it was the same old story: turnovers.

Despite outgaining Atwater 124 yards to 75 in the first half, three fumbles helped keep GV off of the scoreboard.

GV coughed up the ball twice more in the second half, bringing the total to 21 turnovers this season.

Running back Rey Rivas provided a late spark for GV, busting a 26-yard touchdown run and a 66-yard sprint that set up a Martin TD pass to Adrian Abarca.

Rivas finished with 127 yards on seven carries.

"We played pretty well in the first half, but couldn't cash it in," GV coach Jon Betschart said.

"The kids played hard, but obviously we have a lot of work to do."