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Air attack slowed but El Toro still triumphs
MISSION VIEJO - It's hard to say a team with over 400 yards of total offense was out of sync, but El Toro was that team against Clovis in the Mission Viejo Football Classic on Saturday night at Mission Viejo High.
Chargers quarterback Conner Manning had his second consecutive 400-yard passing game and El Toro beat the Cougars, 30-10, but an inordinate amount of penalties kept the Chargers from finding any rhythm the entire game.
The Chargers are known for their quick-strike capability and getting into the end zone, but they had to settle for three field goals by Roger Howard when drives stalled.
Manning had trouble striking deep down the field, but he still ended up 31 of 45 for 419 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Dominic Collins had 11 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown, Blake Murphy had nine catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns and Cody White had four catches for 72 yards.
El Toro, ranked No. 7 in the county, improved to 2-0. Clovis, which reached the CIF Central Section Division 1 semifinals last season, dropped to 1-1. The Cougars are ranked No. 5 in the Central Valley.
While the offense struggled a bit, El Toro's defense came through with a stellar performance. The Chargers recorded seven sacks, including two apiece by defensive lineman Ryan Arnold and linebacker Sam Travis. Alec Shoffeitt had an interception for El Toro, which held Clovis to minus-13 rushing yards.
The penalty situation got to be ridiculous as the Chargers were flagged 14 times for 175 yards, while Clovis was penalized four times for 35 yards.
Clovis took the opening kickoff and its first three plays from scrimmage went for minus-3, minus-4, minus-10 yards and the Cougars were punting from their own end zone.
The Chargers first possession was at Clovis' 37 and three plays into the drive Manning connected with Murphy for a 35-yard touchdown.
El Toro's third possession was an 11-play drive that was helped along by a roughing the kicker penalty when the Chargers were punting from midfield. The drive stalled at the 9-yard line and Howard kicked a 26-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to give El Toro a 10-0 lead.
Clovis responded with a 9-play scoring drive that was helped along by a pass interference penalty by El Toro. Jake Poindexter capped the drive with a 37-yard field goal to make it 10-3.
Manning hooked up with Murphy again on a 12-yard touchdown pass for a 17-3 lead with 4:36 remaining in the half.
The third quarter was bogged down by penalties. Howard was able to connect on a 22-yard field goal when the Chargers were unable to punch it into the end zone from the 5-yard line.
Collins, who is El Toro's biggest deep threat, caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Manning early in the fourth quarter to make it 27-3.
Another laboring drive by the Chargers was halted at Clovis' 17-yard line and Howard connected on a 35-yard field goal for a 30-3 advantage.
Jaye Rocitas scored on a 2-yard touchdown run for the Cougars late in the fourth quarter after the Chargers had brought in substitutes.