RIVERSIDE – Two touches for Taylor Ross, two touchdowns and more broken tackles.
The Sage Hill School senior tailback started fast Friday night at Sherman Indian. Ross appeared just as fast and about as hard to tackle as one of the cars speeding by on the 91 Freeway in the distance.
For the first time in four games, Ross didn't get to 200 yards rushing. But he and his Lightning teammates will surely take the 48-8 nonleague victory, their first blowout win of the season.
Ross, who finished with 167 yards on just 12 carries, took the drama out of the game early for the Lightning (4-0), ranked No. 7 in the CIF Southern Section East Vallley division. After senior quarterback/defensive back Randall Mycorn intercepted the quarterback on the host Braves' first series, the Lightning had the ball on the Sherman Indian 35-yard-line.
The plan? Hand it to Ross and watch him run up the middle, breaking several tackles on his way to the end zone. He did it again from 44 yards out less than two minutes later, bouncing off two tackles and motoring down the Sherman Indian sideline, outrunning two Braves defensive backs who appeared to have the angle.
"Usually when you get off a long bus ride like that, it's hard to get yourself amped up," said Ross, who ran through sizable holes opened up by linemen like seniors T.J. Danner and Max Whitaker, sophomores Nick Francoeur and Tanner Tremaine and freshmen Lucas Ellison and Jack Bick. "We really wanted to make sure we came out strong. I made it my mission to make sure we got up early and got everyone excited."
Ross added another five-yard score in the second quarter, and he nailed all three conversion kicks. After just over 15 minutes, it was Taylor Ross 21, Sherman Indian 0.
Plenty of big plays followed. Junior Conner Ascher had an interception return for a touchdown for the second straight week, and Mycorn found Taylor Petty on an 80-yard touchdown pass.
Junior Eric Cheng also scored twice. He answered the only time the Braves (1-1) got into the end zone on senior Pacomio Sun's 47-yard touchdown run, taking the ensuing kickoff back 85 yards to provide the final score of the game.
Sage Hill Coach J.R. Tolver credited his defensive coordinator J.D. Thompson, as Sun's touchdown run was the hosts' only play from scrimmage of more than 11 yards.
"[Sun's] a dynamic player, and it only takes one play for him to change the game," Tolver said. "We structured our defensive game plan around stopping [Sun], and then, you know, we put them in a position where they had to pass [to set up Ascher's interception]."
Sherman Indian found the going tough, especially when junior quarterback Michael Gonzales went out with what appeared to be cramps midway through the third quarter.
Sage Hill 48, Sherman Indian 8
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Sage Hill 14 – 7 – 27 – 0 — 48
Sherman Indian 0 – 0 – 8 – 0 — 8
SH – Ross 35 run (Ross kick), 10:12.
SH – Ross 44 run (Ross kick), 8:01.
SH – Ross 5 run (Ross kick), 8:52.
SH – Petty 80 pass from Mycorn (kick blocked), 11:42.
SH – Ascher 65 interception return (Ross kick), 8:59.
SH – Cheng 48 run (Ross kick), 3:54.
SI – Sun 47 run (Sun run), 1:03.
SH – Cheng 85 kickoff return (Ross kick), 0:41.
SH – Ross, 12-167, 3 TDs.
SI – Sun, 23-137, 1 TD.
SH – Mycorn, 4-11-0, 110, 1 TD.
SI – Gonzales, 1-10-2, 6.
SH – Petty, 2-86, 1TD.
SI – Andre, 1-6.