After the final buzzer had sounded and the final visiting Otay Ranch Mustang player had cleared the field last Friday, Eastlake Titans coach John McFadden opened his post-game chat to his victorious team with one right-to-the-point sentence. “We keep finding ways to win,” he said.
Few who heard that statement would disagree.
The Titans improved to 7-0 this season — 18-0-2 over the span of two seasons — after finally shaking off a determined Mustang squad, 40-27, in a game that was tied 21-21 midway through the third quarter.
Extending its unbeaten streak to 20 games was a milestone for the EHS program but it didn’t come without some effort. The Titans will now attempt to extend their undefeated streak to 21 games when they visit the Chula Vista Spartans (1-5) on Friday as Mesa League play continues.
Last Friday’s match-up was the league opener for both the Titans and Mustangs. It served as more of a test for Otay Ranch, which came away holding its collective head high after the loss.
“We definitely had a shot,” said Mustang coach Anthony Lacsina, whose team hosts Bonita Vista on Friday in what should be another Mesa League fight to the finish. “We made some critical mistakes in the fourth quarter. We were pleased, but not satisfied, how we performed. We definitely feel good about how we played. After that performance, I don’t think anyone is going to take us lightly. We know Bonita is going to come out and play us hard.”
That is exactly what Otay Ranch did against Eastlake, which in turn elevated its game a notch. Big plays — both offensively and defensively — dominated the contest pitting the two east side powers.
The Mustangs took a 7-0 lead on a 59-yard scoring pass from Marcus Hernandez to Marques Roberts. The Titans countered on the next play as Tavarus Green returned the kick-off 80 yards for a score. After Aaron Baltazar scored on a seven-yard rushing play, it was Otay Ranch’s turn to counter as David Mondy scored on a 17-yard run to knot the teams at 14-14.
The teams combined for three dazzling scoring plays from there.
Travis Gardner hauled in a 44-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Hines to put the hosts up 21-14 at halftime. But Hernandez then hit Chris Martin on a 27-yard scoring pass for the opening touchdown of the second half to once again tie the score.
The Titans, benefiting from deeper numbers on the sideline, took off from there with three unanswered touchdowns to go out in front 40-21.
Baltazar scored his second TD of the game on a 78-yard pass from Hines with 3:47 left in the third quarter and Green followed that with a three-yard scoring run with 18 seconds to play in the quarter.
Chris Fletcher scored on a 27-yard run with 3:48 to play in the fourth quarter to finally put the game away. But the Mustangs left a calling card with Sean Licudine’s 90-yard catch-and-carry for a touchdown to close out the game. Licudine also made one interception on defense.
Sixty-seven points later, Eastlake was 1-0 in league play.
“I just had to help my team,” said Baltazar, who rushed 16 times for 149 yards. “I love them. I consider them my family. I didn’t want to let them down.”
“It’s been someone different each week who has come through for us,” said McFadden, whose team rolled up 495 total offensive yards, including 312 rushing yards.
Hernandez passed for 181 yards to lead Otay Ranch in the passing department, The Mustangs were less successful in the rushing department with 109 yards. John Dumaran also had an interception for the visitors while Khayree Womack recovered a fumble. Overall, Kyle Doton led ORHS with 11 tackles.
Three Titans hit double figures in tackles, with Jesse Lapid, Matt Wilhelm and Hermes Franco each recording 10 stops. Clark Moses had one sack while Fernando Cabico made one interception and one fumble recovery.