COSTA MESA — An Estancia High football team many people believe can defend its Orange Coast League title was already blessed with various strengths with which to torment opponents.
In addition to junior tailback Robert Murtha, a strong offensive line, a capable passing game and a stout defense, the Eagles added Jazz hands to their chorus line of talent Friday night against visiting Godinez.
Senior Jazz Hill, in his first game with the Eagles after transferring earlier this month from Brethren Christian, caught an 80-yard touchdown pass from Brad Wilson with 53 seconds left before halftime to help propel the hosts to a 35-7 league victory.
It was the only time Hill touched the ball all game, but the separation his speed allowed him to create with the Grizzlies cornerback made it an easy stroll to the end zone after he hauled in the pass just past midfield.
"He's got some good speed and he is certainly going to be able to help us down the home stretch here," said Estancia Coach Mike Bargas, who relied primarily on his defense and Murtha to improve to 5-2, 2-0 in league.
The Eagles, ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division, have not been 5-2 since 2006, and have only started that successfully four times since their 10-0 regular season in 1989.
Murtha, who finished with 194 yards on 24 carries, had just 30 yards at halftime and only 58 at the end of three quarters.
But he opened the fourth quarter with a 91-yard run into the end zone that became a 72-yard pickup after an illegal block penalty behind the play cost him the score.
A subsequent one-yard sneak by quarterback Brad Wilson and a two-point conversion run by Deionte Haywood put the Eagles up, 21-0, before Alex Hernandez returned the ensuing kickoff for the Grizzlies' only score.
The Eagles scored touchdowns on their final three possessions to pull away from a scrappy Godinez squad (3-4, 0-2), which was in the game deep into the final quarter.
Senior defensive tackle Alipa Peters recovered a pair of fumbles to set up Dan Cabrera field goals of 43 and 46 yards to give the Eagles a first-quarter cushion.
But Godinez bottled up Murtha and used a ball-control offense to stay with Estancia, until Wilson found Hill and Murtha got going.
"Our defense kept us in the game early and, luckily for us, Cabrera kicked the heck out of the ball," Bargas said. "We didn't do a very good job on offense in the first half. But if you give [Murtha] time, he'll get his yards."
Murtha now has 1,080 yards for the season and 2,731 for his varsity career.
For the second straight week, Estancia's defense came up with a big goal-line stand, this time turning Godinez away after the Grizzlies had first down at the seven-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
Last week, Estancia stopped Laguna Beach short to end the first half on its way to a 35-14 triumph.
Godinez ran 60 offensive plays to the Eagles' 40, but the Eagles — Murtha and senior Alex Trancoso, who amassed 73 yards on two carries — eventually found running room to remain atop the league standings with crosstown rival Costa Mesa.
Estancia 35, Godinez 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Godinez 0 – 0 – 0 – 7 — 7
Estancia 6 – 7 – 0 – 22— 35
Est – Cabrera 43 FG, 4:00.
Est – Cabrera 46 FG, 2:47.
Est – Hill 80 pass from Wilson (Cabrera kick), 0:53.
Est – Wilson 1 run (Haywood run), 6:47.
Gdz – A. Hernandez 92 kickoff return (A. Hernandez kick), 6:33.
Est – Murtha 22 run (Cabrera kick), 5:11.
Est – Haywood 1 run (Cabrera kick), 2:59.
Gdz – Valencia, 27-69.
Est – Murtha, 24-194, 1 TD.
Gdz – Bustos, 5-11-0, 13.
Est – Wilson, 5-11-0, 94, 1 TD.
Gdz – Tapia, 3-16.
Est – Hill, 1--80, 1 TD.