COSTA MESA — No one can call Robert Murtha a "Boy" anymore. The sophomore has grown into a one-man wrecking ball in his first year as a starter at Estancia High.
Stay out of the running back's way, or he might run you over on his way to the end zone.
Calvary Chapel found out the hard way in an Orange Coast League game Thursday night at Jim Scott Stadium.
Murtha ran all over host Calvary Chapel, recording four first-half touchdowns and finishing with 211 yards on 27 carries to help Estancia clinch at least a share of the league title with a 48-27 victory.
If Estancia had not pulled Murtha early in the third quarter, he might have recorded his second straight 300-yard game on the ground and broken the school's single-game rushing record of 324 yards. There is far more important business for Estancia next week on the same field.
Estancia has a shot to win its first outright league crown in 21 years. Murtha and his teammates can close out league play undefeated the same way the last Estancia team did in 1989.
Estancia (5-4, 4-0 in league) can do it against cross-town rival Costa Mesa in the Battle for the Bell game.
"We're one week away from doing something [special]," Estancia Coach Mike Bargas said. "I know [Murtha's] probably a little disappointed in [not getting a chance in the second half to get the record], but we need to be hitting on all cylinders for next week and the [CIF Southern Section Southern Division] playoffs.
"We can't afford to get him hurt."
Murtha was the one punishing the defense on Thursday, making sure Estancia wrapped up its second league title since 2007.
Calvary Chapel (6-3, 2-2), ranked No. 9 in the Southern Division poll, tried its best to bring down the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Murtha. He just ran right through defenders, and around them, scoring three touchdowns in the first 12 minutes of action.
The second score of the night matched Murtha's No. 34 jersey. A defender tried to trip him up inside the 30-yard line, but Murtha kept trucking.
Murtha produced Estancia's first four touchdowns. The offensive line, featuring left tackle Zach Bateman, left guard, Givraan Gutierrez, center Diego Moya, right guard Tony Toledo, right tackle Christopher Thomas, dominated Calvary Chapel so much that it seemed like Murtha might score every touchdown for Estancia.
Other teammates got involved in the second quarter. Cameron Collins intercepted a pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown.
After the defense stopped Murtha for the first time behind the line of scrimmage, Jonathan Diego converted a 42-yard field goal to give Estancia a 38-0 lead with 4:30 left in the first half.
Estancia wanted more points.
The offense, which started in Calvary Chapel territory in four of its first five possessions, had to move the ball late for a chance at another scoring opportunity. In six plays, Estancia reached the opponent's 36 before calling a timeout with six seconds left before halftime.
Estancia tried to use some trickery after returning to the field. Murtha was unstoppable running. Bargas wanted to see if he was just as dangerous passing.
The offense ran a halfback pass with Murtha. He rolled to his right before throwing a pass up for grabs inside the 10-yard. Calvary Chapel intercepted the pass, signaling an end to the second quarter.
"I was trying to get some momentum going into the half," said Bargas, whose team practically shut down Calvary Chapel in the first two quarters, limiting its offense to just two first downs and 39 yards of offense. "Obviously, Robert is not a thrower."
Murtha is a freight train as he has 1,436 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground this year. He is 149 yards short breaking Estancia's single-season rushing record of 1,584 yards.
Estancia plans to ride Murtha next week against Costa Mesa (2-1 in league). The Mustangs have an opportunity to split the league title with Estancia. They have to beat Laguna Beach tonight and then Estancia the following week.
"We want it all," said Bargas, whose team shared the league title with Costa Mesa three years ago. "We don't want to share it with anybody."
Estancia 48, Calvary Chapel 20
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Estancia 21 – 17 – 10 – 0 — 48
Calvary 0 – 0 – 7 – 20 — 20
E – Murtha 15 run (Diego kick), 8:37.
E – Murtha 34 run (Diego kick), 3:30.
E – Murtha 22 run (Diego kick), :00.
E – Murtha 23 run (Diego kick), 7:43.
E – Collins 27 interception return (Diego kick), 6:52.
E – Diego 42 FG, 4:30.
E – Carlyle 92 kickoff return (Diego kick), 11:45.
E – Diego 37 FG, 8:31.
CC – Perez 52 run (Hisa kick), 5:54.
CC – Perez 33 run (Hisa kick), 10:45.
CC – Perez 3 run (kick blocked), 5:09.
CC – Perez 58 fumble return (Hisa kick), 2:05.
E – Murtha, 27-211, 4 TDs.
CC – Perez, 21-180, 3 TDs.
E – Diego, 3-6-0, 21.
CC – McLuckey, 8-18-1, 82.
E – Mejia, 3-22.
CC – Fierro, 3-67.