COSTA MESA — One week Estancia High loses at home to an unranked team from the CIF Southern Section Southern Division. The next one at home, the Eagles beat the No. 3 team in the division.
Coach Mike Bargas said no one believed the No. 10 Eagles could defeat Northwood on Thursday night, except the Eagles. They pulled off a major upset, winning, 43-27, at Jim Scott Stadium.
The victory marked the first against a team from the Pacific Coast League in 11 years. Estancia snapped a 15-game losing streak against opponents from that league. And it meant a lot to Bargas and his program.
"It's a big win for our [Orange Coast League] as a whole," Bargas said. "Obviously, the Pacific Coast League, that division is the one that is the top dog. It's nice for us to rebound from a win that we should've had last week in which we just played stinky [against University]. [Thursday night], the kids were really focused."
The Eagles (3-1) led from the start and the offensive line led the way, allowing Robert Murtha and Alex Trancoso to combine for 311 yards and three touchdowns on the ground against Northwood, which reached the semifinals of the playoffs last year.
The Eagles' defense forced four turnovers, looking for any possible way to slow down Northwood quarterback Ricky Bautista. The Pacific Coast League offensive MVP put up the juggernaut numbers, 369 yards and three touchdowns through the air, much of the stats came in the second half, when Estancia was in control.
Estancia stripped Bautista of the ball twice and defensive back Ben Beck intercepted the senior on the opening drive. Beck returned the pick 46 yards, setting up the game's first score.
By halftime, Estancia led, 22-7. Then the Eagles lost Murtha two minutes into the third quarter with an abdominal strain. The junior went down on the opponent's 30-yard line.
Murtha was a force, rushing for 182 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries. Without him, Estancia went to Alex Trancoso and he recorded 120 of his 129 yards and his two touchdowns in the second half.
The offensive line, featuring left tackle Zach Bateman, left guard Givraan Gutierrez, center Alejandro Lopez, right guard Adahir Aguilera, right tackle Alvaro Alejandre, and tight end Brandon Kingsley pushed around the Timberwolves (1-3).
The line protected quarterback Brad Wilson and he went to two receivers all night, Beck (seven catches for 89 yards) and Sho Watanabe (four catches for 42 yards). Each caught a touchdown pass, on identical out-pattern plays.
Wilson finished with 131 yards on 11-of-18 passing, not as much work as Bautista, but that's because the junior didn't have to fling it around.
Twice in the first quarter, the Eagles forced Northwood to turn the ball over in the red zone. One of those led to an Estancia touchdown, thanks to Beck.
Beck intercepted a pass on the 18 and returned to Northwood territory. Six plays later, on a third-and-eight, Beck made another dazzling play.
The junior jumped to grab a pass from Wilson inside the five-yard line before crossing the goal line for a 22-yard touchdown, giving the Eagles a 7-0 lead. The Timberwolves tried to answer three and a half minutes later.
Bautista hooked up with tight end Alex King on a 42-yard pass play, getting Northwood to Estancia's seven. On the following play, a swarm of Eagles got to Bautista and he fumbled. Milton Gutierrez recovered to keep Northwood out of the end zone.
The Eagles seemed on their way to capitalizing on the second turnover. Murtha took a handoff on the 33 and was on his way to possibly scoring on a 67-yard run, but after he crossed midfield, a defender forced a fumble and Northwood recovered.
Murtha redeemed himself early in the second quarter. He ripped a 70-yard run, before going down on the opponent's five-yard line. The run set up a two-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown by Wilson to put Estancia ahead, 14-7.
Murtha wasn't done.
After defensive back Deionte Haywood broke up a third-down pass, which forced Northwood to punt, the Eagles took over on their own 26. On first down, Murtha went the distance.
Murtha went right, toward the Northwood sideline for a 74-yard run.
Estancia 43, Northwood 27
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Northwood 0- 7 - 7 - 13 – 27
Estancia 7- 15 - 7 - 14 – 43
E – Beck 22 pass from Wilson (Cabrera kick), 5:24.
NW – King 39 pass from Bautista (Nellesen kick), 10:29.
E – Wilson 2 run (Cabrera kick), 8:39.
E – Murtha 74 run (Haywood run), 7:58.
E – Trancoso 3 run (Cabrera kick), 3:09.
NW – Bautista 2 run (Nellesen kick), :54.
E – Trancoso 31 run (Cabrera kick), 11:10.
E – Watanabe 13 pass from Wilson (Cabrera kick), 6:59.
NW – Zorn 9 pass from Bautista (run failed), 4:35.
NW – Zorn 28 pass from Bautista (Nellesen kick), :52.
NW - Wakayama, 12-43.
E - Murtha, 14-182, 1 TD.
NW - Bautista, 22-42-1, 369, 3 TDs.
E - Wilson, 11-18-0, 131, 2 TDs.
NW - Zorn, 9-140, 2 TDs.
E – Beck, 7-89, 1 TD.