HUNTINGTON BEACH — Football coaches have long harped on the importance of the holy trinity of offense, defense and special teams.
Costa Mesa High Coach Wally Grant liked what he saw from two out of three Friday, which proved to be just enough for the Mustangs to claim a seesaw, 34-31, nonleague win at Ocean View.
The Mustangs (3-1 for the first time since 2001) made four of their five conversion kicks, while Ocean View scored only once on the untimed down that followed its five touchdowns. The Seahawks (1-3) also missed two field-goal attempts, including a 31-yard try that bounced off the crossbar with 2:20 left that would have knotted the score.
Ocean View, which amassed 543 yards of offense, including 413 on the ground with only two ballcarriers, had first-and-goal on the Mesa three-yard line on its final possession.
But the Mustangs' defense, which was largely abused all night by Ocean View quarterback Timmy Robinson (130 passing yards and 112 rushing yards) and tailback Travis Sparks-Jackson (301 rushing yards and 75 more on his lone reception), came up big on the next three snaps to force the ill-fated field-goal try.
On first down, Mesa defenders Kevin Salyer, Ulices Martinez and Noah JayaRajah combined to stuff Sparks-Jackson for a one-yard loss off right tackle.
After a would-be Sparks-Jackson touchdown run was erased by a holding call that moved the ball to the 12, the 6-foot- 1, 225-pound Robinson barreled to the six-yard line on a scramble.
Robinson's third-down option pitch was errant and Mesa's Jake Comer corralled the Seahawk who picked up the fumble for an eight-yard loss. The subsequent field-goal try, a low liner by Sparks-Jackson, hit the front of the crossbar and caromed harmlessly back into the end zone.
The Mustangs, who had success running and passing, earned a first down on the ensuing possession, enabling them to run out the clock.
Three Mesa scoring drives were set up by either a turnover or a long kickoff return by senior Mario Smith.
Middle linebacker Oronde Crenshaw's interception set up a four-play drive that opened the scoring for Mesa, which led the entire first half, but trained twice after intermission.
Smith, who rushed for 186 yards and a pair of touchdowns, bolted 75 yards with the kickoff that followed Ocean View's first score. The return to the Seahawks' 18, allowed Mesa to score three plays later, when quarterback Nathan Alvis hit Crenshaw for a 14-yard touchdown pass.
After Ocean View scored one play after its lone interception with 10:43 left in the game, Smith went 43 yards with the ensuing kickoff to set the Mustangs up at the Ocean View 38-yard line.
After six runs advanced the ball to the three-yard line, Alvis found Trace Curet on a quick slant for what would be the winning margin.
Peter Marquez drilled four conversion kicks for the winners, who added 156 return yards to help their special teams carry the day.
Ocean View had a pair of two-point-run tries stopped short and missed two more conversion-kick attempts. The Seahawks also committed three turnovers, matching the Mustangs' total.
"The offense is rolling," Grant said. "Now, we've got to get the defense rolling. At times, our defense is good, then, at times, we do some things we do not coach. We have to do a better job as coaches, myself included, and get this fixed."
Alvis completed nine of 16 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns. He also recovered a fumble on a lateral pass to account for the second of three first-quarter stops by the Mustangs' defense.
Crenshaw rushed four times for 47 yards and one touchdown, and also caught three passes for 29 yards, including the aforementioned score.
The two teams combined for 939 yards of total offense.
"It feels real good," Grant said of the 3-1 start. The kids are working their butts off and I love them."
Costa Mesa 34, Ocean View 31
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Costa Mesa 7 – 13 – 7 – 7 — 34
Ocean View 6 – 12 – 6 – 7 — 31
CM – M. Smith 32 run (Marquez kick), 2:10.
OV – Sparks-Jackson 75 pass from Robinson (run failed), 0:30.
CM – Crenshaw 14 pass from Alvis (Marquez kick), 11:53.
OV – Sparks-Jackson 71 run (kick failed), 10:13.
CM – M. Smith 1 run (kick blocked), 6:05.
OV – Robinson 2 run (run failed), 3:03.
OV – Nolasco-Blas 7 pass from Robinson (kick failed), 7:26.
CM – Crenshaw 13 run (Marquez kick), 0:31.
OV – Sparks-Jackson 55 run (Sparks-Jackson kick), 10:43.
CM – Curet 3 pass from Alvis (Marquez kick), 7:12.
CM – M. Smith, 26-186, 2 TDs; Crenshaw, 4-47, 1 TD.
OV – Sparks-Jackson, 23-301, 2 TDs; Robinson, 17-112, 1 TD.
CM – Alvis, 9-16-1, 133, 2 TDs.
OV – Robinson, 3-14-2, 130, 2 TDs.
CM – Comer, 2-62; Curet, 3-29, 1 TD; Crenshaw, 2-22, 1 TD.
OV – Sparks-Jackson, 1-75, 1 TD.