Irvine showed off its depth on defense and an impressive new quarterback in dominating University, 35-7, in a nonleague opener at Irvine High School Friday night.
Sean Van de Merghel, a senior transfer from Oregon, passed for 150 yards and three touchdowns. And Irvine's defense kept University from mounting any sort of offense, particularly after Irvine took a 14-0 halftime lead.
Irvine Coach Terry Henigan said he wanted to somewhat limit the offensive game plan for the opener to accommodate Van de Merghel. As it turned out, the Vaqueros didn't need to be cautious because the quarterback benefited from some good field position and an early University mistake.
A bad snap forced University punter Chris Gray to fall on the ball at the University 25-yard line. Van de Merghel took five plays to score, connecting on a 12-yard pass to Evan Little. Dave Ignash's kick made it 7-0.
His second touchdown pass, 11 yards to Eric Patton, came after a 12-play drive that started when Irvine's Ray Kang blocked Gray's 40-yard field goal attempt.
"We're very pleased. We didn't ask him to do a lot, but he's a pretty good athlete," Henigan said of Van de Merghel.
Irvine's depth really showed in the third quarter, when the Vaqueros outscored University 21-0. Van de Merghel threw a 50-yard pass to Patton for one score, and Martin Rovira shook off several tacklers on the way to a 19-yard score.
"We have 42 seniors, that's almost unheard of," Henigan said. "A lot of their kids were going on both sides of the ball."
University quarterback Andy Dennis struggled against the defensive pressure, and was forced to throw when the score got out of reach in the second half. He passed for 144 yards and a late touchdown to Chet Johnson, but was only 12 for 32 with an interception.