Brethren's big second half more than enough
TEMECULA – Rancho Christian came into Friday’s CIF-SS East Valley Division second-round game with high-scoring Brethren Christian with the goal of slowing down the Warriors’ vaunted running attack, led Jordan Leonard and his 35 rushing touchdowns.
The Eagles (8-4) accomplished their goal for most of the first half, limiting Leonard to a pair of big runs and not much else. The second half was another story.
Rancho Christian held a two-point lead at halftime but saw the lead evaporate into a 49-26 loss at Temecula Valley.
“Other than a couple plays, they really got to Jordan,” Warriors coach Pat McInally said. “They by far held him the best of anyone we’ve played.”
The lightning-quick Jordan came into the game with 2,312 rushing yards and finished with 203 on the ground and a pair of touchdowns. But as the big men up front for the Warriors (11-1) began to wear down the Eagles’ defensive front, the visitors got their running game going in the second half. Brethren Christian has five linemen who go over 6-foot and 250 pounds, including 6-3, 330-pound tackle Liki Seu.
“Their big guys up front and their speed backs did a great job,” Eagles coach Jim Kunau said. “Giving away that much size up front, I thought our guys played with tremendous heart.”
It was Rancho Christian that set the tone early. After Nick Alvarez recovered a fumble, the Eagles marched 40 yards and scored when quarterback Carter Treadway ran it in from 2 yards. The onside kick was recovered by the hosts, who went 44 yards and took a 14-0 lead following Jesse Roman’s 6-yard touchdown.
“We worked so hard to be here and I’m so proud of our team,” Roman said. “I’m disappointed that we lost but I can’t complain. We won our first playoff game last week and that definitely set the tone for us to come our hard.”
Alvarez made another huge play before halftime, knocking the ball out of Brethren Christian quarterback Joey Gutierrez’s hand for a safety and the 16-14 halftime lead.
Treadway added another rushing touchdown and kicker Emma Backer nailed a 24-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 26-21 lead before Brethren Christian’s running attack took over.
“We had some opportunities early in the third quarter that we just didn’t take advantage of but I give Brethren a lot of credit,” Kunau said. “We made a lot of strides this season in our third year of varsity football.”