Irvine's Brent Miller gets upended by Esperanza's defense in the second half at Yorba Linda High School on Thursday.

Second-half surge helps Esperanza roll Irvine


YORBA LINDA – Esperanza dominated the second half Thursday in a 39-15 win over Irvine at Yorba Linda High in the season opener for both.

The Aztecs outscored the Vaqueros, 32-0, in the second half. Irvine had taken a 15-7 lead early in the third quarter.

Patrick Campos rushed for 157 yards and four touchdowns. In the second half, Esperanza’s defense stopped Irvine three times on fourth down and the Aztecs’ Ryan Casey recovered a fumble that set up the last of Campos’ touchdowns. The defense shut out the Vaqueros over the final 21 minutes of the game.

Campos scored on runs of 1, 1, 9 and 7 yards. He averaged 6.3 yards on his 24 carries, slipping through generous holes opened by the Aztecs offensive line.

Even in a 24-point win, a coach still can make a list of mistakes. And Esperanza coach Gary Bowers made one during the game and shared it afterward.

“Delay of game penalty, false start, a sack … ” Bowers said. “We’re a senior-heavy group. Irvine is young and they’re going to get better, and we’re a bunch of seniors and we still made all those mistakes.”

Campos’ third touchdown, a 9-yard run, gave the Aztecs their first lead, 19-15, late in the third quarter. Irvine was unable to put together much offense after that as Campos added the 7-yard touchdown run after Casey’s fumble recovery at the Irvine 7, and Jake McPherson and Davonte Vendange added touchdown runs in the fourth quarter.

Irvine’s Curtis Jackson provided the Vaqueros’ offensive highlights, scoring on a 67-yard tipped pass in the first quarter and a 28-yard run in the third. Otherwise, Esperanza was able to keep Jackson from being a game-changing factor. Jackson rushed for 65 yards and had two receptions for 74 yards.

The Aztecs appeared to have scored the game’s first touchdown, but Campos’ 59-yard to the end zone was called back because of an illegal block that happened when Campos already had a clear path to the goal line.

Irvine took a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter in fortunate fashion. Vaqueros quarterback Joseph Carter heaved a deep pass to Logan Dory. Dory and Esperanza defensive backs Eric Burns and Blake Peters went up for the ball. The tipped ball was caught by Jackson, a couple of yards behind the three, at the Esperanza 25, from where Jackson ran uncontested to the end zone.

Esperanza tied it a minute later. A 44-yard pass from Aztecs quarterback Trevor Markowitz caught by a diving Peters put Esperanza at the Irvine 1-yard line. Campos carried it in from there, and the extra point made it 7-7.

Jackson’s touchdown run and a two-point conversion gave Irvine its 15-7 lead. Esperanza took over the game from there.

Esperanza plays host to Bellflower in another nonleague game Thursday at Yorba Linda. The Aztecs play their Crestview League opener against Foothill on Oct. 23 at Yorba Linda.

Irvine plays at its on-campus field Friday against Rim of the World of Lake Arrowhead. The Vaqueros play their Pacific Coast League opener Oct. 9 at Irvine High against Northwood.

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