Garden Grove High took a solid lead over La Quinta into halftime. But it was a defensive play in the start of the third quarter that spurred the Argonauts to run away with the game, 47-26, in the Garden Grove League opener for both teams last week at Bolsa Grande High.
Garden Grove led 30-14 at halftime, with the Aztecs receiving the second half kickoff. But on the Aztec drive, a pass went off the hands of the receiver and was picked off by Jacob Zazueta, who returned it into Aztec territory.
Senior Dominik Sanchez completed the swing with a 27-yard touchdown run that pushed the Argonaut lead to 37-14. Sanchez finished the night with 216 yards rushing with three touchdowns.
“The line did really good with the blocking, they kept us going, I told them you keep hitting, we’ll keep grinding,” Sanchez said.
On La Quinta’s ensuing possession, the Argonaut defense forced a punt that set them up at their own 40 yard line. Four plays later, quarterback Cristian Marquez ran 10 yards for a touchdown to extend the Argonaut lead to 44-14.
Sanchez had a 20 yard run on the drive and Zazueta had a 24-yard run to the 10 yard line that set up Marquez’s TD run. Garden Grove’s Jonathan Gallegos added 100 yards rushing for the Argonauts.
Garden Grove had an extra week off after their final non-league game against Laguna Hills was cancelled due to illness among Laguna Hills’ team. Garden Grove coach Ricardo Cepeda said that while the extra bye helped a few players get past injuries, they also had to shake off some rust.
Garden Grove played some strong teams in non-league play, including a top-ranked Pacifica squad three weeks prior. While the schedule had left the Argonauts at 1-3 going into league play, Cepeda said it helped them be tested as they look to retain the league championship. La Quinta looked like one of the toughest foes in their way.
“We came ready to play, we knew they [La Quinta] were good … we played a tough schedule for a reason,” Cepeda said.
La Quinta took a 14-13 lead with a big play of its own when quarterback Michael Nadeau hit Jayelen Walker for a 78-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline. The play gave the Aztecs a 14-13 lead, after Garden Grove’s Dominik Sanchez had broken two big runs for touchdowns.
La Quinta had also taken a 7-0 lead after a long drive that was capped by a Daniel Truong two-yard touchdown run. Nadeau passed for 263 yards and also ran for two touchdowns. La Quinta coach Andy Diaz credited Garden Grove for the their effort and execution.
“We made mistakes, but that was because they forced us to make mistakes, they’re a good team,” La Quinta coach Andy Diaz said.