CONCORD -- De La Salle High's football team beat Foothill 34-17 on Friday night to stay unbeaten this season, but this wasn't a particularly enjoyable win for coach Bob Ladouceur and the Spartans.
The defense gave up a season high in points, and the team led by just 10 at one point in the fourth quarter before finally icing the game.
"Our defense couldn't get off the field, our quarterback had a tough night throwing, our offensive line had a tough night blocking," Ladouceur said. "You can't play that way against Foothill. They have a lot of heart, and they're well coached. You do that against them, and they hung around the whole game."
Griffith Gates' 4-yard touchdown run got Foothill within 27-17 with 10 minutes, 50 seconds left, but the Spartans went on a 10-play drive capped by a Tiapepe Vitale 3-yard touchdown run. De La Salle (6-0) breathed a little easier from there.
Vitale finished with 149 rushing yards and four touchdowns, including a 76-yard scamper two plays after Foothill had made the score 20-10 in the third quarter.
De La Salle led 20-3 at halftime thanks to a couple major assists from its special teams and defense.
Allan Marion returned the opening kickoff 55 yards to give De La Salle great field position, but from there Spartans needed 11 plays to go 40 yards for their first score.
On the final play of the drive, Michael Hutchings made a stellar one-handed grab on a bad pitch, trapping the ball against his backside and sprinting 7 yards for the touchdown.
It soon became 14-0 after D.J. Moffitt intercepted Foothill sophomore quarterback Kyle Kearns on the Falcons' third play from scrimmage. He returned the ball to the Falcons' 8-yard line, and Vitale found the end zone on the next play.
But Foothill (3-3) didn't roll over. Kearns and the Falcons' offense were particularly successful in the second half. He finished with 145 passing yards and a touchdown.
"We competed this week. Last week against Cal, we didn't compete," Foothill coach Matt Sweeney said. "It's the first week we've done that where we've competed the whole time."