By Ted Apodaca
Pacifica put together two late touchdown drives and got two defensive stops to get past Tustin, 21-14, in an Empire League game on Friday at Garden Grove High.
Pacifica trailed 14-13 when their defense came up with a defensive stop of Tustin deep in their own territory, forcing a punt. The Mariners fielded the punt at the 50 yard line with 3:37 left in the game.
Quarterback Ben Jefferson hit Matt Moslenko to move the ball to the 37 yard line, and a holding penalty by Tustin moved it to the 10 yard line. Jefferson added a five yard pass to Sean Blake and on the next play Jefferson scrambled for another five yards to move the ball to the 16 yard line.
On the next play Rai Sagastume burst through a hole up the middle for a 16-yard touchdown run to give the Mariners a lead with 1:00 left in the game. Jefferson connected with Bobby Santos for a two-point conversion to push the lead to 21-14.
“I got the ball and I saw the lane just open up and I just had to hit it,” Sagastume said.
Tustin had taken their 14-7 lead with 10:04 on a touchdown run by K.C. Carr III. The drive had been set up by a fumble recovery by the Tillers. Pacifica responded with a 13-play drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jefferson to Moslenko. Jefferson had also connected with Moslenko for an 11-yard completion and with Santos for a 22-yard connection on the drive.
However, a failed two-point conversion left the Mariners trailing by one, requiring the final defensive stop and drive. Sagastume said despite early struggles, Jefferson’s leadership was key in the final two drives.
“Ben just made awesome reads and made good plays towards the end and we just executed,” Sagastume said.
Both defenses came up with big games against offenses that had put up big numbers. Both teams had seven wins coming into the game. Pacifica had averaged more than 46 points per game, while Tustin had averaged more than 39 in seven wins for each.
Tustin makes no secrets of their attack, they run the ball and they run it well. Standout running back K.C. Carr was able to rush for more than 200 yards, but the Mariners forced two fumbles and had an interception by Hagen Forman to end Tustin’s final drive.
“We got 11 players to the ball every single play and that’s what led us to the victory,” senior linebacker Isaak Togia said.