COSTA MESA — Jeremy Osso smiled as he stood along the fence on the visitors' side at Jim Scott Stadium on Friday night.
Osso is now a visitor there, even though Estancia is where he went to high school. After he was fired in June as the head coach of Costa Mesa High, he's in his first year as offensive line coach at University.
Friday night's contest was not the game his Costa Mesa teams played against his alma mater, the Battle for the Bell. It was just an early-season nonleague game between Estancia and University. Osso still played a big role in spoiling Estancia's home opener.
The Trojans ran the ball effectively and took advantage of key Eagles turnovers, hanging on for a 30-22 upset victory.
"We saw some things that were open and we just took advantage of it," Osso said after University ran for 306 yards to post its first victory of the season. "Literally, that's all it was. [Trojans senior] Tyler Stanek is a phenomenal wide receiver, but we saw there were a lot of holes open in the run game."
University senior Chastin Gammage did most of the damage, running for 128 yards and two scores. But Ryan Kuo (70 yards) and quarterback Zach Christy (52 yards) also contributed mightily.
"To be honest with you, a little bit," Estancia Coach Mike Bargas said when asked if he was surprised at the efficiency of Uni's running game. "They had a good little scheme against us. It just takes the momentum to swing, and then we're kind of grabbing ourselves."
Estancia (2-1), ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division poll, was denied its first 3-0 start since 1999. The Eagles got into the red zone twice in the first half but had no points to show for it after a pair of interceptions. One occurred in the back of the end zone, the other at the Trojans two-yard line.
The game was scoreless at halftime. The Eagles did strike on the second play of the second half on Robert Murtha's 59-yard touchdown run. Murtha finished with 185 yards rushing.
But the unranked Trojans (1-2) answered back on their first possession of the half when Gammage found the end zone from 13 yards out. A fumbled snap on the next possession hurt Estancia, as the Eagles' third turnover gave Uni the ball at the Eagles' 25-yard line. The visitors eventually scored again on a three-yard touchdown run, taking a 14-7 lead.
After a University punt was downed at the Estancia two-yard line late in the third quarter, the Trojans got a safety as the Estancia running back couldn't get out of the end zone. It went from bad to worse when Kuo took the ensuing kickoff back 70 yards for a touchdown, giving the Trojans a 23-7 advantage.
They scored again with 2:50 left on Gammage's four-yard touchdown run, breaking the game open.
"We left our defense out on the football field too long," Bargas said. "We didn't bend, we broke tonight, and a lot of it's on me. We just looked a little bit disorganized tonight."
A furious late rally by Estancia made things interesting. Brad Wilson's long touchdown pass to Sho Watanabe was followed by an onside kick, which Ozzy Magana recovered with 42 seconds left. Wilson then found a diving Ben Beck in the right side of the end zone to pull Estancia within one score, but just two seconds remained in the game.
The second onside kick was recovered by the Trojans' Connor Martin, ending the game.
University Coach Mark Cunningham said his team was missing several starters, including his best player, senior running back/strong safety Sean Martin (knee).
"I think this is one of Estancia's best teams they've had in a while," Cunningham said. "For them to win a league championship last year and have what they have this year, I think they're going to be pretty darn tough. They've got some physical kids on that team, and they've got a swagger to them right now … We needed some breaks, which we got."
They were bad breaks for the Eagles, but good breaks for the Trojans and a certain familiar offensive line coach.
University 30, Estancia 22
SCORE BY QUARTERS
University 0 – 0 – 14 – 16 — 30
Estancia 0 – 0 – 7 – 15 — 22
Est – Murtha 59 run (Cabrera kick), 11:07.
Uni – Gammage 13 run (Stanek kick), 8:11.
Uni – Jenkins 3 run (Stanek kick), 3:21.
Uni – safety, running back tackled in end zone, 11:42.
Uni – Kuo 70 kickoff return (Stanek kick), 11:30.
Uni – Gammage 4 run (Stanek kick), 2:50.
Est – Watanabe 61 pass from Wilson (Haywood run), 0:45.
Est – Beck 13 pass from Wilson (Cabrera kick), 0:02.
Uni – Gammage, 14-128, 2 TDs.
Est – Murtha, 25-185, 1 TD.
Uni – Christy, 3-8-0, 14.
Est – Wilson, 8-15-2, 154, 2 TDs.
Uni – Gammage, 2-13.
Est – Watanabe, 3-87, 1 TD.