VISALIA -- No Deangelo Torres? No problem.
Visalia-El Diamante, missing top rusher Torres, did just fine, thank you, relying on fullback Alex Schapansky.
All Schapansky did was rush for 162 yards and scored three touchdowns to power the top-seeded Miners to a 28-14 win over third-seeded Garces in the Division II title game at Golden West High School.
"We heard that and he's a good player," Garces coach Jim Maples said of Torres' likely absence from the game. "But their fullback really hurt us. He was a tremendous athlete on the football field. He made some runs that were really impressive."
Schapansky had a 13-yard TD run with 59 seconds left in the first quarter, then put the Miners ahead 14-0 on a 75-yard TD catch from J.C. Robles.
He gave the Miners (12-1) a 21-7 lead with 7:44 left in the third quarter on an 8-yard TD run, and set up the game-clinching 1-yard TD run by Darius Liles with 3:58 left in the fourth quarter.
Liles' TD capped a 14-play, 77-yard drive. Schapansky had 12 carries and 75 on that drive. "Props to (Schapansky)," said Garces senior safety and wide receiver Dominic Frasch. "He's a great player. He beat our defense tonight."
Garces, the defending Div. II champion, finished 10-3.
Schapansky may have been the offensive force, but the Miners' defense did an excellent job bottling up Garces' standout running back Sheldon Croney.
Croney, who had 274 yards in the Rams' semifinal win over Kingsburg, had only 26 yards on 10 carries in the first half. Garces didn't get a first down until 10:11 showed on the clock in the second quarter.
When El Diamante took a 14-0 lead with 11:37 left in the second quarter, the Miners had a 197-20 edge in total offense.
"They did a good job of game planning for Sheldon," Maples said. "We didn't take advantage early in the first half of what they were giving us. We really had a bad first half."
"Our defense has been playing well all year long," said Miners' coach Mark Rogers. "We felt if we got to him early we had a chance because once he gets going he's a very good running back."
Garces and Croney had more success after that but Croney finished with only 96 yards on 20 carries. He did score the Rams' final TD, on a 11-yard run with 2:16 left in the third quarter that pulled Garces within 21-14.
Garces had a chance to tie it with 10 minutes left in the game when it drove to the Miners' 23 and faced a fourth-and-4. Jake Pavletich's pass fell incomplete in the end zone and El Diamante then drove the 77 yards for the insurance TD.
Garces trailed 14-0 at halftime before Frasch pulled the Rams within 14-7 two plays into the third quarter on a 59-yard touchdown reception from Paveletich.
Frasch caught a swing pass, split two defenders and outran the Miners' defense the rest of the way into the end zone. "I thought we would take the momentum and come back and win," Frasch said.