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Aztecs claim key Division III match-up from Mariners 26-22 Phillip Brents | Thu, Oct 07 2010 11:02 PM

The Montgomery Aztecs were disappointed to lose their homecoming game on Sept. 24, an event that officially marked the 40th anniversary of the Otay Mesa high school, as the visiting Orange Glen Patriots rallied from a 27-14 halftime deficit to prevail 28-27. The Aztecs simply disappointed the visiting Mar Vista Mariners last Friday to win a key San Diego Section Division III non-league match-up 26-22.

“They had the ball on our three-yard line with about three seconds to play,” Montgomery coach Julio Alcala said in recalling  the dramatic ending to last Friday’s contest. “It was basically the last play of the game. They were either going to score to win the game or we were going to stop them to win the game. We stopped them.”

Esteban Espinoza was credited with the game-saving tackle.

For Alcala and his team, it was a simple case of turnabout is fair play.

“We came out flat in the second half against Orange Glen,” the Aztec coach said in reference to his team’s loss against the Patriots that dropped it from the unbeaten ranks. “It was a very long halftime. There was a lot happening. Things like that happen some time.”

Montgomery was not about to let another potential win slip away against the Mariners, however.

“We talked about it before the game,” Alcala said. “Our loss to them last year basically is what kept us out of the playoffs.”

The Aztecs are now 3-1 and await the arrival of the second-ranked Eastlake Titans (5-0) to Otay Mesa Friday in a high impact non-league encounter.

“We’re two points away from being 4-0,” Alcala said. “They are where they’re ranked. Eastlake has a lot of talent and are well coached. I told our players that we have to be prepared whoever we face each week, that it’s an opportunity for them to showcase their talent.”

There’s no question the Aztecs have their share of talent. Diego Rodriguez (712 rushing yards on the season) returned a kick-off 88 yards for a touchdown and later scored on a 54-yard rushing play against Mar Vista (1-3). Jordan Lippman, meanwhile, scored on a couple of quarterback sneaks.

Rodriguez, who gained 173 yards on 22 carries, also scored on a two-point conversion.
After trailing 8-0  early, Montgomery led 20-16 at halftime.

The Aztecs rushed for a total of 208 yards in the game — a number eclipsed by Mar Vista’s prodigious total of 425 rushing yards on 44 carries.

Irving Lopez was Montgomery’s defensive point leader with 14 tackles and one forced fumble.

The Mariners were led by a trio of players who each topped the century mark in rushing: Justin Peoples (eight carries, 113 yards), Rommel Cooper (17 carries, 144 yards) and Jordan Lertique (13 carries, 144 yards).

Each scored once touchdown while Cooper and Lertique both tacked on successful two-point conversions.

Cooper has rushed for 647 yards and five touchdowns this season. Mar Vista, which hosts Patrick Henry (1-3) this Friday, is averaging 337.8 rushing yards per game while piling up 10 rushing TDs.   

After kicking off the season with an impressive 32-20 non-league victory against visiting Christian, the Mariners have now lost three games in a row, including setbacks to Morse (26-14 on Sept. 17) and Bishop’s (20-12 on Sept. 25).

Cooper rushed 17 times for 151 yards and scored twice — once on a rushing play and once on a passing play — in the loss to Bishop’s. Mar Vista totaled 232 rushing yards against the unbeaten Knights. Ruben Gonzales led the Mariners with 11 tackles while Demarcus Henderson snagged one interception.        

Rewind
In the Aztecs’ loss to Orange Glen, Manny Quiambao scored three touchdowns, including one on an 85-yard kick-off return on a reverse that earned him the KUSI-TV Prep Pigskin Report’s Play of the Week award. Quiambao also scored on runs of 13 and 80 yards.

Montgomery totaled 273 rushing yards in the setback.

“They had a crucial fourth down and a yard and we stopped their runner in the backfield but he bounced off our tacklers and went to the outside for a 30-yard gain,” Alcala said. “That set up their last touchdown.”

Miles Godfrey led Orange Glen, which improved to 3-1 with the victory, with 328 passing yards. Chris Escobar had 11 catches for 226 yards. Their combination proved lethal in the second half.

The Patriot defense also came up big with two sacks (one each by Jose Cortez and Shafi Karim) and two interceptions by Austin Early.

Montgomery held Orange Glen to just 65 rushing yards.

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