The Eastlake Titans and Bonita Vista Barons rivalry game – the Battle for the Boot – is well known and documented in South County. Less well known is Eastlake’s east side rivalry with the Otay Ranch Mustangs.
The Eastlake-Otay Ranch rivalry continues to grow; in fact, it should mushroom after Friday’s wild shootout at the Mustangs’ corral.
The Titans entered the game with a four-game winning streak and the No. 10 ranking among San Diego Section teams.
That ranking will likely change after Otay Ranch stopped Eastlake, 31-28, to the delight of an enthusiastic homecoming crowd.
The game was well fought and entertaining, especially in the second half. The Mustangs won to go up 1-0 in what expects to be a tight race for this year’s Metro-Mesa League championship.
Otay Ranch head coach Lance Christensen admitted respect for the Titans entering the game, saying he anticipated “a very challenging and competitive game.”
The Mustangs got that on all fronts; it applied to Eastlake as well.
Otay Ranch led 10-0, and went into the halftime break with a 17-7 lead.
Then things turned really hectic — and exciting.
In the blink of an eye, it seemed, the Titans went ahead 21-17. Then the Mustangs went up 24-21. Then Eastlake re-took the lead at 28-24.
Otay Ranch had the final say on the scoreboard by surging ahead 31-28 and then managed to hold off a late Eastlake rally to close out the game.
The fireworks started early on the field.
The Mustangs took a 3-0 lead on a 29-yard field goal by Elijah Flores.
A bad snap by Eastlake, recovered by Otay Ranch’s Darian Williams, helped set up the Mustangs’ first touchdown of the game — a 34-yard scoring pass from Puka Stewart to Zeek Cruz upped the lead to 10-0.
The miscues continued for the visitors as a fumble recovery by the Mustangs set up their next touchdown drive, which was capped by a six-yard run by Gus Espiritu.
But a touchdown pass from Eastlake’s Daniel Amon to Kevin Bateman trimmed the Otay Ranch lead to 17-7.
The Titans outscored the Mustangs 21-7 in a frantic third quarter, twice taking leads in the quarter.
Amon finished the game with four touchdowns passes — three of them came in the third quarter, including two to Jalyn Jackson and another to Bateman.
Amon connected on a 49-yarder to Jackson to fully ignite the comeback rally by the visitors.
Stewart hit Josh Lira on a 68-yard touchdown completion to put the Mustangs ahead 24-21 after two touchdowns had given Eastlake a 21-17 lead. Undaunted, the Titans stormed back on a 28-yard TD pass from Amon to Jackson to make the score 28-24.
Eastlake appeared to be driving again before an interception by Otay Ranch’s Kenny Robinson halted the drive.
But a turnover on a muffed punt handed the ball back to the Mustangs and Sammy Paranada bulled his way in from eight yards out to put the hosts back into the lead at 31-28.
The Mustangs sealed the emotional win with an interception by Vita Hafoka with 20 seconds left in the back-and-forth contest.
The visitors had driven from their one one-yard line to the Mustang 25-yard line before Hafoka’s timely pick.
Otay Ranch’s players dedicated the game to the memory of founding principal Jose Brosz, who recently died from cancer.
“It was a very close game,” Paranda told a KUSI-TV news crew on site. “He (Brosz) was down here with us and helped us get the ‘W’ tonight.”
The Mustangs improved to 4-3 overall and are now working on a modest two-game winning streak. Otay Ranch will host the Olympian Eagles next Friday in a matchup of Metro-Mesa League unbeatens.
Stewart completed 10 of 19 passing attempts for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Lira had two catches for 75 yards while Cruz had three catches for 47 yards.
Otay Ranch rushed for 151 yards — 76 yards on 19 carries by Espiritu and 42 yards on six carries by Paranada.
Eastlake, which out-gained the Mustangs 388-315 in total yards, fell to 5-2 on the season. The Titans have a bye week before hosting Mater Dei Catholic (0-0, 3-3) on Oct. 20.
Amon had a breakout game with 345 passing yards and four TDs. Jackson had three catches totaling 118 yards while Bateman had eight catches for 129 yards.
Jackson finished the night with 141 all-purpose yards — 118 receiving yards and 23 kick return yards.
Amon lost two fumbles, however.
Josh McCurty led Eastlake with 14 tackles while teammates Bernard Coe and Richard Corpus each had 12 tackles. McCurty had one sack while Jackson and A.J. Hernandez each had two pass deflections. Donyal Thompson had one fumble recovery.
In another Metro-Mesa League opener on Friday, Olympian (1-0, 4-3) defeated visiting Bonita Vista (0-1, 0-7) by a score of 54-7.
Treyvion Davies scored two rushing touchdowns while Albert Robinson got the scoring going on an end-around run. Nico Mendoza fired a 60-yard scoring pass to Mikkel Tyler and Arnold Escano later scored to further increase the lead for the Eagles. Jared Desmond scored on a fumble recovery to highlight the defensive effort turned in the hosts.
In other games on Friday:
Crusaders 35, Trojans 7
Mater Dei Catholic (3-3) kept host Castle Park winless on the season with a 35-7 non-league victory. Crusader Jayden Flores had two interceptions and one touchdown reception while teammate Laurence Mass scored two touchdowns – one on a pass and another on a fumble return.
MDC quarterback Cameron Smith threw two touchdown passes — one each to Flores and Massa. Christian Paquian scored one rushing touchdown while Ryan Flores scored on a fumble return to further highlight the Mater Dei Catholic win.
The Crusaders led 21-0 at halftime and built a 35-0 lead late in the third quarter. Joel Torres caught a two-yard scoring pass early in the fourth quarter to enable the Trojans (0-7) to avert a shutout loss.
Paquian scored on a four-yard run with 8:32 left in the second quarter to put the visitors up 7-0. The touchdown was set up by a 52-yard pass play from Smith to Shaun Jones.
Smith then called his own number and motored from the 40-yard line to the nine-yard line to help set up Mater Dei Catholic’s second touchdown — a five-yard pass from Smith to Jayden Flores.
After an apparent touchdown by the visitors was recalled, Ryan Flores scooped up a fumble (caused by Jayden Flores) and raced 15 yards into the end zone to boost the Crusaders’ lead to 21-0.
Jayden Flores appeared to score on an interception return as the second half got underway. But a penalty negated the pick six.
Smith then hit Laurence Massa on 68-yard catch-and-carry a touchdown to increase the Crusaders’ lead to 28-0.
Ryan Flores made the score 35-0 when he blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for a defensive touchdown.
Mater Dei Catholic head coach John Joyner said his team remains a work in progress following a massive wave of graduation. He said he’s pleased overall with the team’s progress.
“We’re young,” Joyner stressed. “There’s games where we play well. Then there are games when we play like we’re young. No complaints. The kids have done a good job. We’ve played three ranked teams. I’m proud of them.”
The Crusaders were missing several key players due to injury against Castle Park, including sophomore Aiden Calvert, who is out for the season.
Daniel Ortega had an interception early in the game for the Trojans. The teams fought to a scoreless stalemate through the first quarter.
Mater Dei Catholic hosts Bonita Vista (0-1, 0-7) in its Metro-Mesa League opener next Friday. Castle Park has a bye week before hosting the San Ysidro Cougars (3-4) in the teams’ Metro-Pacific League opener on Oct. 20.
Sweetwater’s Marty Sesma rushed for 322 yards in the Red Devils’ win at San Ysidro.
Chula Vista took a 28-0 lead in its non-league game at El Cajon Valley when Darrion Hamilton hit Kajahan Duncan on an 11-yard scoring pass. Justin Cantwell opened scoring on a 10-yard and later caught a 15-yard touchdown pass to increase the Spartans’ advantage on the scoreboard to 34-7.
Prep Football Scoreboard
Friday, Oct. 6
Otay Ranch 31, Eastlake 28
Olympian 54, Bonita Vista 7
League standings: Olympian 1-0, Otay Ranch 1-0, Mater Dei Catholic 0-0, Bonita Vista 0-1, Eastlake 0-1
Friday, Oct. 6
Mater Dei Catholic 35, Castle Park 7
Chula Vista 40, El Cajon Valley 20
Sweetwater 30, San Ysidro 0
San Diego Section
Eastlake Titans 5-2
Olympian Eagles 4-3
Bonita Vista Barons 0-7
Otay Ranch Mustangs 4-3
Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders 3-3
Mar Vista Mariners 4-2
Hilltop Lancers 3-3
Chula Vista Spartans 4-3
Sweetwater Red Devils 3-3
Castle Park Trojans 0-7
Montgomery Aztecs 3-3
San Ysidro Cougars 3-4
Southwest Raiders 2-4
Victory Christian Academy 2-2
Ocean View Christian Academy 3-2
San Diego Section
Mission Hills Grizzlies 6-0
La Costa Canyon Mavericks 6-0
Madison Warhawks 6-0
Ramona Bulldogs 6-0
Bishop’s Knights 5-0
Southwest El Centro Eagles 6-0
Kearny Komets 6-0
San Diego Cavers 6-0