SANTA ANA — Omar Gutierrez had a fever, and the prescription wasn't for more cowbell.
The Estancia High senior tight end/linebacker had the chills during football practice Wednesday, and he got home and he wasn't feeling any better.
"I get home and I just had a fever," Gutierrez said. "I woke up and I still had a fever."
Gutierrez, who has been coming back from a deep bruise in his lower back, gutted it out Thursday night after missing school during the day. He wore a hoodie all night, trying to keep his strength.
Coach Mike Bargas said he didn't think Gutierrez would play. By the end of the game, Gutierrez and the Eagles made the host Godinez Grizzlies feel the sickest.
Gutierrez caught two touchdown passes from senior quarterback John Diego, and Estancia dominated in the second half for a 42-14 Orange Coast League victory at Segerstrom High.
The Eagles (3-4, 2-0 in league) overcame a slow start to hand Godinez (4-3, 1-1) its first league loss. Estancia is alone in first place, at least for a day. The only other team in the six-team league to win its league opener, Calvary Chapel, plays at Laguna Beach tonight.
Gutierrez opened the scoring, catching a 30-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter. He would later catch a 31-yard touchdown strike from Diego, again over the middle. He made his only two catches of the night count.
"He's been a trooper," Bargas said. "I didn't think he was going to play, but he wanted to play. It's nice to see him step up as a senior."
Godinez senior running back Rene Peña had a three-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter, tying the score at 7-7. The drive was keyed by a 62-yard pass to Leo Olvera over the middle, which would have gone for six if not for a touchdown-saving tackle out of bounds by Estancia senior Matt Carlyle.
Carlyle again played an important role seconds later. His ensuing 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, straight up the middle of the field, shocked the Grizzlies and gave Estancia a 14-7 halftime lead.
"That was huge for us," Diego said. "Sometimes when people tie us up, they slouch their heads a little. That kickoff return was a big momentum shift. They thought they were back in this game."
Carlyle also had an apparent touchdown return on the second-half kickoff, but that was called back due to a penalty. Estancia's drive stalled, and the Grizzles tied the score again when Terry Williams broke a 70-yard touchdown run with 9:31 left in the third quarter.
Estancia outscored Godinez, 28-0, from that point on, however.
"We had a momentum swing of 14 points [on the called back kickoff return and Williams' run], and those are huge," Bargas said. "I always tell the kids, 'Make big plays but don't give up big plays,' and we gave up a couple big plays. We were able to persevere, and that was huge. It was a big character test for these guys. The defense held fast, and we were finally able to settle down and make some things happen."
Sophomore tailback Robert Murtha, who ran for 165 yards, had a pair of seven-yard touchdown scampers, sandwiched around Gutierrez's second touchdown grab. Colby Koste capped the scoring with his five-yard run in the fourth quarter.
"We don't want to say we feel cocky, but there's some confidence growing," Diego said. "We were struggling a little, and now we're starting to get more in sync. We get to run the ball, and that helps us with the passing a lot."
Estancia 42, Godinez 14
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Estancia 0 – 14 – 14 – 14 — 42
Godinez 0 – 7 – 7 – 0 — 14
Est – Gutierrez 30 pass from Diego (Diego kick), 3:22.
G – Pena 3 run (Hernandez kick), 1:21.
Est – Carlyle 92 kickoff return (Diego kick), 1:08.
G – Williams 70 run (Hernandez kick), 9:31.
Est – Murtha 7 run (Diego kick), 6:58.
Est – Gutierrez 31 pass from Diego (Diego kick), 2:23.
Est – Murtha 7 run (Diego kick), 7:35.
Est – Koste 5 run (Collins kick), 5:03.
Est – Murtha, 29-165, 2 TDs.
G – Williams, 2-73, 1 TD.
Est – Diego, 5-8-0, 114, 2 TDs.
G – Silva, 7-19-0, 150.
Est – Gutierrez, 2-61, 2 TDs.
G – Olvera, 2-80.