For nearly three quarters Friday night, Capistrano Valley fans had to be wondering what was going on. Their team was being dominated by a Trabuco Hills team that had won only once this season and the Cougars were fortunate to be tied going into the fourth quarter.
But the county's fourth-ranked team returned to what it does best--run the ball--in the final quarter to pull out a 24-14 victory over Trabuco Hills in the South Coast League opener at Capistrano Valley.
The Mustang defense forced Capistrano Valley (5-1, 1-0) into passing by stacking the line in hopes of containing the Cougars' outstanding tailback, Malaefou MacKenzie. The strategy worked and they limited the Cougars to 22 plays in the first half, including six rushes for one yard. MacKenzie touched the ball just four times.
If not for three first-half interceptions thrown by Trabuco Hills quarterback Tom Lindow--the first one was returned by Blake Laidlaw 30 yards for a touchdown--the Mustangs (1-5, 0-1) might have led instead of being tied, 14-14.
But in the second half, Cougar Coach Dave Brown moved MacKenzie from flanker back to his more familiar tailback position and MacKenzie finished with 89 yards rushing and 56 yards receiving.
MacKenzie's two-yard touchdown run with 7 minutes 36 seconds remaining culminated a 10-play, 93-yard drive giving Capistrano Valley a 21-14 lead. Brett Thompson sealed the victory with 1:06 left on a 20-yard field goal.
The Mustangs scored in the second quarter on Bryan Carter's one-yard run and four-yard reception. He rushed 16 times for 71 yards, but Trabuco Hills was limited to 65 second-half yards and only four in the fourth quarter.