Fri, Sep 09 2011 02:00 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Call it the “hit heard ’round the world,” or at least, on the Internet. When Eastlake safety Jude Isbell smashed into Helix receiver Kenny Keys in the end zone with 1:07 remaining in last Friday’s top 10 showdown, the collision jarred the ball loose and thus preserved a harrowing 21-14 non-league victory for the Titans.
Isbell’s game-saving hit has since been voted the nation’s No. 1 “play of the week” on the Web site rivals.com.
It couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for coach John McFadden’s troops, who entered the game ranked first among the San Diego Section’s Division I schools. Helix was ranked first among the section’s Division II schools — and first overall in the section.
After the game, Highlanders coach Troy Starr said that if his squad had scored on the play they would have gone for a potential game-winning two-point conversion.
“They’re a pretty solid team — maybe the top two or three in the state,” McFadden said. “Just beating them means our offense is doing OK. We made some mistakes that we’re working on correcting. Our guys showed they have the heart and desire out there. It was great to see our guys battle.”
The Titans (1-0) rolled up 335 rushing yards and tacked on 132 passing yards on the arm of quarterback Josh Palet to finish the game with a staggering 467 total offensive yards against a team the quality of Helix, which somehow never found itself out of the game.
Eastlake took an early 14-0 lead on the strength of a five-yard scoring run by Adrian Tabula and a breakaway 67-yard run by Isbell.
But the Highlanders (0-1) never strayed far behind after that while riding the strong arm of signal-caller Brandon Lewis, who passed for 264 yards and tossed a pair of touchdown passes.
Jimmy Pruitt caught a 15-yard strike to halve the Titan lead to 14-7 at halftime. Keys later hauled in a 39-yarder for a score to once again bring the Scotties within striking distance after Eastlake had pushed its lead to 21-7 on a four-yard TD run by Aaron Baltazar in the third quarter.
Isbell rushed 15 times for 127 yards while Baltazar amassed 95 yards on 19 carries and Jalen Mondane had 71 yards on seven carries.
Travis Gardner had two catches for 49 yards while Baltazar grabbed two passes for 31 yards.
But the outcome of the game came down to Isbell’s hit, which the EHS coach labelled “amazing.”
“He’s a big hitter and has amazing speed,” McFadden said. “He’s starting to remind me a lot of Tony Jefferson (now at top-ranked Oklahoma), who also played that position.”
“I knew they were probably the top team in the county,” Palet told a television news crew after the game. “We knew we were one of the top teams. They’re a great team. We’re a great team. We knew the team that made the least mistakes would win. We came out on top.”
The Titans will attempt to make it a 2-0 start to the young season when they host Scripps Ranch (0-1) on Friday. The Falcons are coming off a 41-21 loss to Poway, which entered the week ranked eighth in the section, second among Division I squads.
Bernard Bonner keyed Scripps against Poway with kick-off returns of 98 and 95 yards.
“They’re a very good program, and I think we have one of the top teams in the county as well,” McFadden said in regard to Friday’s non-league match-up. “It’s going to be a good game.”
Kick-off is 7 p.m.
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