Esperanza had hoped that Friday night's game against Pasadena Muir would be a good tuneup for next week's matchup with Sunset League rival Los Alamitos.
But the ninth-ranked Aztecs learned a lesson as Sultan McCullough, Lashaun Ward and Anthony Kelley helped the Mustangs win, 42-21, at Muir High.
McCullough, one of the nation's top-ranked sprinters in the 100 meters last season, fumbled the ball the third time he handled it. Esperanza recovered at the Muir 40.
After Esperanza kicker Nathan Fikse missed a 46-yard field-goal attempt, McCullough went to work.
On the ensuing drive, McCullough carried the ball five times for 76 yards, including a three-yard touchdown run for a 7-6 lead.
The Aztecs (3-2) bounced back to tie the score when Jamie Smith scored on an 11-yard run, but Muir controlled the game from there.
McCullough ran for 255 yards in 23 carries and another touchdown run of 61 yards.
Kelley was Ward's favorite receiver, catching four passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns. Ward completed 11 of 15 passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns.
Brent Garrison was Esperanza's only bright spot, rushing 24 times for 181 yards.
Smith finished with 50 yards in 10 carries and scored on a one-yard touchdown in the third quarter.