COSTA MESA — Costa Mesa High needed to beat Calvary Chapel Thursday to contend for a third Orange Coast League title in the last four years.
The Mustangs sure make it look easy against the Eagles.
When it comes to football between these two schools, Costa Mesa owns the series. The Mustangs beat Calvary Chapel, 26-13, and improved to 8-0 all-time against the Eagles.
More importantly, Costa Mesa (3-5, 2-1 in league) handed the Eagles their first league loss, dropping them to 2-1.
The lone undefeated team in league is Estancia (2-0 in league), which plays Saddleback tonight at Jim Scott Stadium. That is the same site where Costa Mesa ran all over Calvary Chapel, amassing 241 yards.
The game marked the Mustangs' second of four straight games on the fast turf. Their final two league games are at Jim Scott Stadium, a venue that you might think might be advantageous to Costa Mesa's league title hopes.
"Because of our practice field [being regular grass], it doesn't help us a lot [playing on turf]," Costa Mesa Coach Jeremy Osso said. "On Monday, we couldn't practice on our field because it was so wet. It was literally like three inches thick of water. We come out on Tuesday and it's like the Sahara Desert. It's dry as bone out there. You can't cut because there's nothing to cut in.
"It's nice to come out here and play on this [field at Estancia High], but it's not like this is a real home-field advantage for us when we don't practice on anything like this."
It took the Mustangs the first quarter to adjust to the playing surface.
After Calvary Chapel took a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter, the Mustangs shut the visitors out for the next 28 minutes of action.
Calvary Chapel recorded only one first down in the second quarter and the Mustangs took advantage. Running back Julian Marquez scored a five-yard touchdown and quarterback Nathan Alvis found the end zone on a one-yard sneak to put the Mustangs ahead, 12-6, at halftime.
Alvis added a 17-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter, giving the junior 10 rushing touchdowns on the season. The total is a Newport-Mesa best for quarterbacks.
Alvis also threw a touchdown pass and finished with 141 yards passing. He hooked up with wide receiver Jordan Walden on a 35-yard score. The touchdown through the air was Alvis' 12th of the year.
The Mustangs won this one by pounding Calvary Chapel. They ended the Eagles' five-game winning streak by running behind 6-foot-8, 285-pound senior left tackle Andrew Albers and the rest of the offensive line.
"We challenged our line tonight," Osso said. "We told our line, 'It's going to be up to you guys.' They came through."
Marquez and Alvis benefitted the most, gaining 74 and 60 yards rushing, respectively.
The defense gave Costa Mesa opportunities to control the clock. The Mustangs contained running back Brandon Perez.
The senior entered the night averaging 121 yards and two touchdowns on the ground each game. Perez scored only once and finished four yards short of 100.
When Calvary Chapel tried to throw, Walden and Tyler Biggs intercepted J.T. McLuckey passes. During one stretch McLuckey threw eight incomplete passes.
Each team turned the ball over on their first possession, the Eagles on downs and the Mustangs on an interception. Costa Mesa's opening drive went the furthest and it hurt itself with a holding penalty, which nullified a 17-yard run by DaSean Grayson.
Instead of being on Eagles' 10-yard line with a first down, Costa Mesa moved back to the 35. Facing a third-and-16, Costa Mesa passed.
Alvis went for the end zone to receiver Jake Comer, who appeared to have a step on the cornerback, but Perez got in the way. He leaped and picked off the ball on the two midway through the opening quarter.
After a scoreless first 12 minutes, Calvary Chapel struck first in the second quarter. The Eagles went 83 yards on seven plays to go ahead 6-0. Out of Wildcat formation, Perez took the snap and ran left before finding an opening to score a three-yard touchdown. Costa Mesa's Roberto Ramirez blocked the extra-point kick.
The Mustangs quickly responded. They put together a 10-play, 68-yard scoring drive. The Eagles kept Costa Mesa's drive alive by jumping offside on fourth-and-one near midfield.
Costa Mesa then ran seven straight times on the ground and tied the game at 6-6 on Marquez's five-yard touchdown run with 4:08 left in the first half.
The Mustangs were on their way to taking control.
Costa Mesa next plays defending league champion Laguna Beach.
"We can't look past Laguna," said Osso, who knows a victory next week will possibly make the Battle for the Bell game against Estancia the league title game on Nov. 12.
"All cards should be on the line for that Estancia game at the end of the year."
Costa Mesa 26, Calvary Chapel 13
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Mesa 0 – 12 – 14 – 0 — 26
Calvary 0 – 6 – 0 – 7 — 13
CC – Perez 3 run (kick blocked), 10:23.
CM – J. Marquez 5 run (kick failed), 4:08.
CM – Alvis 1 run (run failed), 1:22.
CM – Alvis 17 run (P. Marquez kick), 6:18.
CM – Walden 35 pass from Alvis (P. Marquez kick), 3:27.
CC – McLuckey 4 run (Hisa kick), 5:57.
CM – J. Marquez, 13-74, 1 TD.
CC – Perez, 17-98, 1 TD.
CM – Alvis, 8-16-2, 141, 1 TD.
CC – McLuckey, 14-29-2, 167.
CM – Walden, 5-65, 1 TD.
CC – R. Vasquez, 4-31.