Eagles soar to title

COSTA MESA — The high school football rivalry began 45 years ago, on a different field than the one Costa Mesa and Estancia played on Friday night.

In the previous contests, the two programs never played for what they met for in the regular-season finale at Jim Scott Stadium.

Estancia and Costa Mesa played for a league title.

Winner claims the Orange Coast League title, the Battle for the Bell and eats ribs. The Eagles made history, as they wrapped up back-to-back undefeated league titles for the first time with a 28-14 victory.

The way Estancia (8-2, 5-0 in league), ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division, pulled it off was impressive.

"Physically, they just whooped us," said Costa Mesa Coach Wally Grant, in his first year in charge of his alma mater.

The Eagles ended the Mustangs' eight-game winning streak in the biggest matchup in town.

Costa Mesa's Mario Smith was the tailback who stole the headlines a week ago with a 359-yard, seven-touchdown performance on the ground.

This week, in the game with more at stake for the Mustangs (8-2, 4-1), it was Estancia running back Robert Murtha with the gaudy yards. The junior rushed for 276 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries.

Murtha's score broke a 14-14 tie midway through the third quarter. No one could take down Murtha, who went right before cutting back inside. He exploded and was gone just like that for an 84-yard touchdown.

"The guy never stopped and never gave up," Estancia Coach Mike Bargas said.

"They've got a great running back. If we're able to contain him, I thought we had the victory."

The Eagles more than contained Smith, they knocked him out of the game, allowing Bargas to win his third league title in his five years at Estancia.

With less than four minutes into the fourth quarter, Smith was done. He fumbled for the second time and linebacker Ozzy Magana returned it 24 yards for a touchdown.

The Eagles' lead grew to 28-14. Grant said Smith's night ended because of a shoulder injury. And there went the Mustangs' best chance to get back in the game.

"We've gotten a lot of mileage out of him," Grant said of Smith, who has rushed for 1,913 yards and 28 touchdowns on 175 carries this season. [Friday night], there was just nothing left in the tank for him."

Smith took his pads off on the sideline and watched the rest of the way as Estancia now leads the series against Costa Mesa, 26-18-1. He finished with a season-low 71 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries.

The Eagles' defensive line, with Alipa Peters and Andy Ugalde leading the way, stopped Smith way short of topping 200 yards rushing for the fifth straight league game.

The runner who was way over the 200-yard mark was Murtha. The offensive line, featuring left tackle Zach Bateman, left guard Givraan Gutierrez, center Alejandro Lopez, right guard Adahir Aguilera and right tackle Alvaro Alejandre, pushed around Costa Mesa's small defensive line.

The line gave quarterback Brad Wilson time to throw when the Eagles needed to air it out.

Wilson's only target of the night was junior Levi Stillman. Wilson hooked up with Stillman twice for touchdowns in the first half.

Stillman, who went into the game with just four catches, matched that total and finished with 53 yards, helping Estancia go into halftime tied with Costa Mesa at 14.

The wide receiver went into the game with a heavy heart.

"My uncle Michael passed away [this week]," Stillman said. "[His death] hit me hard. He was going in for a liver transplant and then when he got into the hospital he just couldn't make it anymore.

"I played for [him]."


Orange Coast League

Estancia 7 7 7 7 — 28

Costa Mesa 7 7 0 0 — 14


CM — Alvis 6 run (Lux kick), 4:43.

E — Stillman 15 pass from Wilson (Cabrera kick), 1:31.


E — Stillman 24 pass from Wilson (Cabrera kick), 10:02.

CM — Smith 5 run (Lux kick), 3:57.


E — Murtha 84 run (Cabrera kick), 6:56.


E – Magana 24 fumble return (Cabrera kick), 8:45.


E — Murtha, 24-276, 1 TD.

CM — Smith, 22-71, 1 TD.


E — Wilson, 4-8-0, 53, 1 TD.

CM — Alvis, 11-25-0, 120.


E — Stillman, 4-53.

CM — Walden, 6-63.


Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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