The New Westminster Hyacks fumbled their way into the B.C. high school AAA football basement with a 32-6 loss to the Notre Dame Jugglers last Friday.
The Jugglers, unlucky back-to-back losers to West Vancouver and Terry Fox in recent weeks, registered their first win of the season to move into second place in the Western conference.
Notre Dame mixed it up on offence, alternating quarterbacks Danny Spagnuolo and Anthony Cusati at pivot all game long, while the Jugglers' defence forced the Hyacks to fumble the football seven times.
"It's unfortunate," said Hyacks' head coach Farhan Lalji. "We prepared well for it and for the (weather) conditions. It's frustrating when you look at those fumbles. No one even touches it."
Paulo Dube scored the Jugglers' opening touchdown following a New West fumble on the opening possession.
Cusati passed to Grade 11 receiver Aldrich Berrios on a 20-yard second-quarter strike that put Notre Dame up 14-0 after a successful Spagnuolo point after.
Following the kickoff, Berrios recovered a third straight Hyack fumble and running back Mike Aranzaso put the Burnaby regional school up three scores to none on a five-yard run after giving the Jugglers great field position following a 56-yard run.
Berrios also intercepted Hyack QB Tommy Robertson on the Hyacks' fourth chance with the football.
New West scored its only touchdown on a botched punt attempt deep in the Jugglers' end of the field late in the first half.
Hyacks' leading rusher Aldrin Asuncion took the ball into the end zone from three yards out following one of Notre Dame's few turnovers.
The Hyacks had a chance to cut the lead in half midway through the third quarter following a brilliant one-handed
interception from defensive back James Sommerfeld, but that possession never got past midfield.
New West gave up a safety touch in the fourth quarter, but then after recovering the ensuing kickoff, Robertson fumbled on a sack by Matt Will that led to the Jugglers' final score by Spagnuolo.
"They'll pick themselves up. It's the nature of football," said Lalji.
But the biggest concern this season is execution, Lalji added.
"It's a good group. They do everything right, but I'm not convinced we've learned from our mistakes. We have to learn," he said.
Going into the game the Jugglers believed they were a better team than their record indicated and the outcome proved it, said Berrios.
"We knew we had a good chance to win and we came in confident. We wanted that W more than they did," Berrios said. "For us it was our turnaround game of the season. Getting over the hump after that throwaway game against Boucherie."
One high point for the Hyacks was the running of Pavan Mrock, who led all rushers with 141 yards. Sonu Kainth and Jordan Chin were their usual leaders on defence.
With a conference record of 0-3, New Westminster can ill afford to drop any of its final three league games, which include tough outings against three ranked schools, including No. 4 Vancouver College this Friday at Mercer Stadium.
"We got to win some football games, but we've certainly made it hard on ourselves," Lalji said.
Game time for the encounter with the Fighting Irish is 7: 30 p.m.