Three quarters of tough, physical football saw the Bellarmine-Jefferson High football team limp into the fourth quarter of Friday's nonleague contest at Rosamond clinging to the slimmest of leads.
But the Guards' two-point margin grew quickly, thanks to two unanswered touchdowns to open the final period, and Bell-Jeff held on for a 27-18 win to improve to 2-1 on the season.
Josh Martinez scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving, including a 43-yard run that put the Guards up, 27-12, with six minutes left in the game.
"He's done a great job," Guards Coach Rolando Aguirre said of his workhorse, who racked up 218 yards in 11 carries and had four touchdowns last week in a 37-8 win against Fairmont Prep. "I've got to take care of him now. I need help from other people."
The Guards lost some key pieces of their offense during the game when running back Demitri Moreno and tight end Matt Landini both suffered ankle injuries.
"It was a very tough game, very brutal, hard-hitting," Aguirre said. "But it boiled down to who made less mistakes and driving the ball and we did pretty good."
Bell-Jeff opened the game with a fumble that Rosamond recovered on the Guards' 25-yard line and the Roadrunners cashed it in for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.
The Guards evened the score when Moreno returned an interception 64 yards to the Roadrunners' one-yard line later in the first quarter, setting up a short scoring run for Martinez. Quarterback Mitch Kellogg found Moreno for a two-point conversion to give Bell-Jeff a lead it would never lose.
With the score 14-12 entering the fourth quarter, the Guards got some breathing room off a Kellogg sneak to go up, 20-12, before Martinez turned in his game-breaking run.
Rosamond then recovered an onside kick and scored, but missed the extra-point attempt.
"We did OK; I'm very proud of them," Aguirre said. "We're playing good football."