By Christopher Abdelmalek
Isaiah Blevins’ 52-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter capped a come-from-behind victory for the Mariners of Pacifica High over the Tillers from Tustin High School Friday night at Bolsa Stadium in Garden Grove.
Blevins finished with a team-high 97 yards rushing and two touchdowns to brings the Mariners to a 5-3 record overall and 3-0 in Empire League play, tied for the conference lead with Cypress.
Blevins was ecstatic as he crossed the end zone to put the Mariners ahead of the Tillers at the end of the game, “All the pressure, everybody screaming, its like a dream come true,” said the star running back after the game. “I saw my 0-line create the hole, I juked out the big man, and I was gone!”
And gone he was. But not to be overlooked by Blevins’ night, is the freshman quarterback Darius Cowens.
Cowens went 14 out of 17 for 115 yards in the air. After being sacked four times in the first half, Cowens began to make subtle adjustments to buy valuable time in the pocket to allow his receivers to get open. Because of this the defense had to respect his running and passing ability and instead of loading the box with eight men to stop the run they had to drop more in coverage to account for his accuracy in the air.
This opened the running game for Blevins to score the game-winning touchdown. “After this win, I believe if we fight, we can beat anybody,” said the running back.
Defensively the Mariners played strong overall, but in spurts in the first half. They allowed a long-sustained drive in the first quarter that ended with a 45-yard touchdown rush by star running back Matt Rodriguez.
Rodriguez carried the ball 25 times for 157 yards and that touchdown. Multiple holding penalties against the Tillers wiped several big plays from Rodriguez off the board.
The Mariners did manage to make a crucial interception on quarterback Riley Kelly in the first half which set up their first touchdown, a one-yard rush by Blevins to tie the game at 7-7 going into the half.
The Tillers marched down the field to start the second half on another long drive to go up 14-7 with a seven-yard jet sweep by running back Josaiah Aiono.
At this point with the way the Tillers were running the ball it looked like that would be all they needed to win the game. Then the defense stepped up again.
Two-way player C.J. Washington picked off Kelly at the start of the fourth quarter and returned it 67 yards for the score. This tied the game at 14-14 and shifted the momentum back in the Mariners favor. After another defense stop, the Mariners got the ball back and scored off the big rush from Blevins.
But the defense wasn’t finished just yet. With under two minutes and no time outs the Tillers had to push the ball down the field. After a quick couple of first downs, the Tillers had the ball at the Mariners 40-yard line. But four straight stops by the defensive backs on the final drive sealed the victory for the home team.
“Defense wins championships. If wasn’t for our defense setting up our first score and then our defense with the pick six and then our defense came up huge again,” said coach Vinnie Lopez of his team The Mariners will be on the road against Valencia (3-5, 1-2) next week. Tustin (4-4, 2-1) will play host to co-league leader Cypress High School (8-0, 3-0) next Friday as well.
Pacifica and Cypress will meet on Oct. 31 (Halloween). All games are scheduled for 7 p.m. kickoffs.
Here are the results of Friday night area high school football games. Scores will be posted as they arrive.
- Rancho Alamitos 14, Los Amigos 7.
- Edison 41, Huntington Beach 15.
- Segerstrom 39, Garden Grove 6.
- Marina 78, Westminster 6.
- Pacifica 21, Tustin 14.
- Magnolia 48, Anaheim 7.
- Western 31, Ocean View 0.
Categories: High school sports