COSTA MESA — Coach Mike Bargas called Estancia High's football game on Thursday night the toughest of the season.
That is saying a lot since it was his team's fifth game of the season.
The contest was at home and against Beckman, a CIF Southern Section Southern Division finalist last year. Estancia showed Bargas that it has closed the gap with the upper-echelon programs in the division.
Estancia tried to pull of its second upset in as many weeks. The sixth-ranked Eagles came close before falling to the No. 2 Patriots, 12-10, at Jim Scott Stadium.
The game turned out much different from the previous two games against Beckman (3-2). Estancia (3-2) made it competitive from start to finish.
"I'm disappointed that we weren't able to win the football game. But the kids … never gave up," said Bargas, whose team last season was outscored, 87-22, in two losses to Beckman, one came in the first round of the playoffs. "It was a two-point game. The defense played awesome. They were stalwarts the whole game.
"I knew this was going to be a dogfight."
Yards were hard to chew on the ground. No team rushed for more than 100 yards in the nonleague game.
The passing game and field position was the difference. Beckman had quarterback Cameron Biedgoly and the field position.
The senior threw two touchdown passes in the third quarter and he handled the punting duties. Biedgoly punted seven times, three pinned Estancia inside its own 10-yard line in the first half.
The Eagles, who lost the field position, still led, 3-0, at halftime.
Two mistakes in the third quarter hurt Estancia. A penalty on a fourth-and-one near midfield forced the Eagles to punt, instead of going for the first down.
Six plays later, Beckman found the end zone. Biedgoly hit wide receiver James Kaprielian on a 52-yard touchdown pass midway through the third, giving the Patriots a 6-3 lead.
Ninety-four seconds later, the Eagles committed another blunder. The punter booted the ball six yards for the second time.
The second six-yard punt cost the Eagles six points in the third quarter. Beckman went ahead, 12-3, on Biedgoly's 24-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Molina. The Patriots needed Biedgoly's arm because for the third straight game they played without standout running back Jeff Kim.
"It's been tough," said Biedgoly of playing without Kim, who rushed for 1,715 yards and scored 18 touchdowns last year as a junior. "But we've come together as a family and we're just playing it day by day to see when he comes back."
With Kim out of action, the Eagles stood a chance at knocking out a ranked opponent from the Pacific Coast League for the second straight week.
Last week, they beat then-No. 3 Northwood, 43-27, with a strong ground game from Robert Murtha and Alex Trancoso, who combined for 311 yards and three touchdowns.
Beckman held Murtha to 67 yards on 22 carries. The Eagles' best chance at coming from behind came with 2:31 left to play and with quarterback Brad Wilson's arm.
Wilson hooked up with Sho Watanabe on a four-yard touchdown pass earlier in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles started on their own 20-yard line, but they only managed two yards before turning the ball over on downs.
Wilson was without his top target, Ben Beck, in the second half. Bargas said Beck left with a foot injury in the second quarter.
Wilson missed the junior receiver. His final five passes fell incomplete.
Wilson and the Eagles now open Orange Coast League play next week at Laguna Beach, which went into Thursday night ranked No. 5 and undefeated.
"Hopefully it gives us a little bit of momentum, even though it's a loss, to go out and say, 'Hey, we can play with these other teams,'" Bargas said. "Hopefully we learn from this thing."
Beckman 12, Estancia 10
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Beckman 0 – 0 – 12 – 0 – 12
Estancia 3 – 0 – 0 – 7 – 10
E – Cabrera 32 FG, 8:14.
B – Kaprielian 52 pass from Biedgoly (kick failed), 6:34.
B – Molina 24 pass from Biedgoly (run failed), 1:55.
E – Watanabe 4 pass from Wilson (Cabrera kick), 7:45.
B – Brooks, 21-62.
E – Murtha, 22-67.
B – Biedgoly, 8-19-0, 135, 2 TDs.
E – Wilson, 10-21-0, 77, 1 TD.
B – Kaprielian, 2-63, 1 TD.
E – Watanabe, 4-33, 1 TD.