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Tesoro survives battle with Trabuco Hills
MISSION VIEJO - Trabuco Hills gave Tesoro a battle, probably more than the third-ranked Titans were bargaining on.
For the third time this season, Tesoro needed a fourth-quarter rally, and once again the Titans came through down the stretch to pull out a 35-28 victory in the South Coast League opener for both schools on Friday night at Trabuco Hills High.
Tesoro led by two touchdowns early on, but the Mustangs kept hanging in there. Trabuco Hills' J.T. Land blocked a long field-goal attempt by Zach Schottenfeld, scooped up the ball and rumbled 66 yards for a touchdown to tie it, 21-21, with 9:24 remaining.
Tesoro has proven itself in pressure-packed situations with fourth-quarter drives to beat Hart of Newhall, 10-7, and Chaparral of Temecula, 17-14.
The Titans turned to their ground-and-pound attack and turned running back Nate Tago loose. Tesoro responded to Land's game-changing touchdown with a 14-play, 80-yard scoring drive that took nearly 7 minutes off the clock. Tago had 12 carries on the 15-play drive, including a 6-yard touchdown run that gave Tesoro a 28-21 lead with 2:34 remaining.
"Well, we know we can finish," Tesoro coach Brian Barnes said. "I just said we are going to go back to our ground-and-pound and go pound it and finish the game."
Trabuco Hills fumbled on the next play from scrimmage, and Tesoro's Chazz Roberts recovered it deep in Trabuco Hills territory. Two plays later, Michael Mackessy scored on an 8-yard run to increase the Titans' lead to 35-21.
Trabuco Hills quarterback Nathan Perry moved the Mustangs right down the field and eventually hit Cole Breeland for a 9-yard touchdown pass to cut the Titans' lead to 35-28 with 26 seconds left.
The Mustangs attempted an onside kick, but Nick Crouch recovered it for Tesoro to preserve the victory.
Barnes said he's proud that his team is 6-0, but he said there were mistakes and penalties that need to be cleaned up – especially with a game against No. 7 El Toro next Friday at 7 p.m. at Trabuco Hills High.
"I don't know if our bye week affected us," Barnes said. "We made a lot of mistakes, and Trabuco Hills is a good football team." They are a really good football team. If we do our thing, it shouldn't have been what it was. I'm proud of our kids to finish the game and finish strong and know how to get things done. ... You know, we're 6-0 and a lot of teams can't say that right now."
The Titans' offensive line had another tremendous game; Tago had 27 carries for 168 yards and two touchdowns running behind it. right tackle Aron Lopiccolo, right guard Nick Zamites, centers Clay Eubank and Nicolas Fehrenbach, left guard Ryan Alexander and left tackle Zach Hickman. Defensive end Chazz Roberts, who anchored the defense, also got in a lot at tight end.
"Nate has got to be up there as one of the best players in the county," Barnes said. "I mean, he is a tough and he runs as hard as you can run. He's going to will himself to victory."
Tesoro quarterback Matt Adam was 7 of 11 for 61 yards and rushed for 58 yards. He threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jake Smeltzer and a 31-yard one to Forrest Dunivin. He was picked off once.
Wide receiver Cole Breeland had a fantastic night for the Mustangs, finishing with six receptions for 115 yards, including touchdown catches of 47 and 9 yards.
Trabuco Hills (4-3) has a bye next then plays El Toro on Oct. 19 at Trabuco Hills.