COSTA MESA — The Estancia High football team would surely have preferred victory formation. But the Eagles didn't leave the field following a 21-13 nonleague home loss to Buena Park Thursday night without one of their own successfully executing the act of taking a knee.
Estancia assistant coach Chris Bargas, the younger brother of Eagles' head man Mike Bargas, used an electronic scoreboard message to ask Mandy Carsten to marry him after the Eagles came up short on the field for the first time in two games.
Carsten said yes and the younger Bargas, who dropped to one knee around the 10-yard line while holding open a box that carried an engagement ring, was then embraced by friends, family, coaches and players.
Congratulations were limited to the happy couple, however, after Estancia turnovers foiled its attempt to court a second straight win.
The Coyotes (3-0) returned an interception 49 yards for their first score and cashed in a fumble recovery and a successful fake punt to take a 14-13 lead into intermission.
A botched shotgun snap recovered by Buena Park halted another scoring chance for the Eagles late in the second quarter, prompting Mike Bargas to lament what might have been.
"We blew some opportunities," Mike Bargas said. "Our defense didn't play too badly, but we didn't put the ball in the end zone when we needed to."
Sophomore tailback Robert Murtha spearheaded the Estancia offense, amassing 206 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries. Murtha had 175 yards at halftime, capping scoring drives of 71 and 64 yards to twice give the Eagles the lead.
An errant conversion kick after Murtha's second score kept the lead at 13-7, but Estancia recovered a fumble at the Buena Park 33-yard line on the first play after the ensuing kickoff.
But Coyotes' defensive end Pauli Taumoepeau then forced and recovered a fumble while making a sack to give his team a reprieve, as well as possession at its own 24.
On the ensuing possession, a fake punt on fourth-and-six gained 37 yards to the Estancia 35. Two plays later, Carlos Ponton darted into the end zone. The second of three Samuel Martinez PATs gave the Coyotes the lead for good with 1:45 left in the half.
The Eagles drove into Buena Park territory on their first two second-half possessions and were at midfield on their final offensive series, a sack on fourth down ended the threat.
Buena Park ran out the final 4:21.
After the two teams shook hands at midfield, the public-address announcer mentioned that there would be some photos taken of the coaches on the field for the program.
After a couple poses continued the rouse, the coaches' significant others were directed to turn toward the scoreboard. The message popped up: "Marry me? Love Chris." After reading the message, a smiling Carsten burst into tears, before embracing Chris Bargas.
Both teams lost two fumbles, but Buena Park also cashed in the lone interception, when Kameron Taylor ran under a dying quail created when a defender jostled the Eagles' quarterback as he was throwing and went untouched into the end zone.
Senior outside linebacker Omar Gutierrez stood out for the Eagles, posting one of his team's three sacks and producing two of the Eagles' three receptions at tight end.
Christopher Thomas and Alipa Peters also had sacks, while senior middle linebacker Eduardo Lopez was a consistent presence in the neutral zone for the Eagles.
Ponton had 92 yards on 19 rushing attempts, but the biggest star for the Coyotes may have been Taylor. The 6-foot-3 junior wideout had catches for eight, 44 and 13 yards on the Coyotes' final scoring march, the last of those on fourth-and-eight to the Eagles' 12-yard line.
Buena Park 21, Estancia 13
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Buena Park 7 – 7 – 0 – 7 — 21
Estancia 7 – 6 – 0 – 0 — 13
Est – Murtha 2 run (D. Cabrera kick), 8:55.
BP – Taylor 49 interception return (Martinez kick), 0:17.
Est – Murtha 3 run (kick failed), 7:23.
BP – Ponton 35 run (Martinez kick), 1:45.
BP – Crow 1 run (Martinez kick), 10:05.
BP – Ponton, 19-92, 1 TD..
Est – Murtha, 35-206, 2 TDs.
BP – Crow, 8-12-0, 162.
Est – Diego, 3-10-1, 47.
BP – Taylor, 4-75.
Est – O. Gutierrez, 2-20.