Chaparral's offense finally put it together in the second half to spark the Pumas' thrilling, come-from-behind, 29-21 victory over Norco in Saturday night's CIF Inland Division semifinal.
But Chaparral might not have even had the chance had the defense not kept it in the game. Norco gained just six first downs the entire night, and on a defense that made one big play after another, one particular player shined during every, single big-play situation.
Chaparral senior linebacker Fontayne Fuga was legit in every sense of the word.
In the first half, with the Pumas down 6-0, Fuga picked up a fumble and ran 27 yards to tie the game after Norco quarterback Taylor Viloria botched a handoff.
That was huge, and Fuga continued to make big plays in the second half.
In the third quarter, with Norco leading 21-16 and facing a third-and-7 from its own 40-yard line, Fuga brought down Norco running back Deantre Lewis for a 6-yard loss. On Norco's next possession, Fuga made another outstanding tackle on Lewis on a third-and-9 from the Chaparral 47 to hold Norco seven yards short of a first down.
And, finally, on Norco's last gasp, Fuga combined with junior defensive lineman Jonathan Johnson to make the game-ending sack with 1:21 remaining.
Also making huge defensive plays for Chaparral in the second half: Sophomore Darius Guillory made an acrobatic interception and senior defensive end John Reynolds recovered a fumble.
"All credit to the defense," Fuga said. "The defense came out to play strong, and that's what we do."