JeyaRajah-Traylor connection too much for Santiago

COSTA MESA — There is a long line of trash-talking wide receivers in professional football.

Costa Mesa High senior quarterback Noah JeyaRajah prodded senior receiver Markiece Traylor a little bit after Thursday night's 45-14 nonleague victory over Garden Grove Santiago, telling Traylor it was all right to talk himself up a little bit.

Traylor just smiled. The Mustangs said what they had to say on the field, where Coach Wally Grant's squad earned its first victory of the year at Jim Scott Stadium.

Traylor and JeyaRajah were big offensive weapons for Costa Mesa (1-1). JeyaRajah completed nine of 10 passes for 194 yards and four touchdowns. Traylor had 184 yards receiving and touchdown catches of 61, 54 and 36 yards.

But JeyaRajah knew why he had so much time to throw, thanks to the blocking of tackles Sam Bunker and Marco Zalpa, guards Joseph Quiroz and Alan Obregon, center Jonathan Elias and tight end Anthony McCormick.

"Things really clicked for us," JeyaRajah said. "Our line really worked hard this week in practice, our line was kicking butt, and it showed tonight. We had wide-open holes. I had a lot of time to throw to [Traylor]."

That was not the case last week, when Costa Mesa finished with just 82 total yards in a 10-0 loss to Western. But the offense flowed much smoother against Santiago (0-1). Senior running back Justin Smith had 167 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Grant also credited the offensive line's improved play, saying it was fun to watch the "bigguns" do work. But Grant has skill players who can do that, too.

"When teams are going to pack the box like that and put eight, nine guys in there, I've got some receivers that are pretty fast," Grant said. "You see what happens. All we have to do is give them a couple of seconds, and they're down the field. If we can play catch, we'll have a good year again. If we can play catch and the 'bigguns' do what they're supposed to do up front, we'll win more games than we lose. But if we don't do that, then it's going to look like Western."

The Mustangs struck quickly against Santiago, after forcing the Cavaliers to a three-and-out on their first possession. The punt went just 22 yards, giving the Mustangs excellent field position on the Santiago 36-yard line.

Smith took advantage of it on Mesa's first play from scrimmage, starting right before cutting back left. Soon he was in the end zone and the Mustangs were ahead.

Santiago answered, as junior quarterback Richard Sagastume converted a fourth-and-17 by finding junior receiver Franklin San Nicolas on a 23-yard touchdown pass with 4:07 left in the first quarter.

But the rest of the half belonged to Mesa. JeyaRajah capped an 11-play drive by finding junior Quinten Bell on a four-yard touchdown pass. Then, on the Mustangs' next possession, he completed a short pass to Traylor.

Traylor did the rest, making an electrifying change of direction near midfield to dodge two would-be tacklers before sprinting down the Costa Mesa sideline. The touchdown pass went for 61 yards, and the Mustangs were up, 21-6, at halftime.

"It was instincts," Traylor said of his move. "It feels pretty good, you know. My quarterback got me the ball when I was open. He has faith in me, so I've got to return the love."

It was all love in the second half too, as Traylor caught two more long touchdown passes. Soon, the rout was on.

JeyaRajah said the Mustangs still could have played better on both offense and defense, where they allowed Sagastume to scramble for 107 yards rushing on 17 carries. Mesa did intercept him on his final pass of the game, though, as Erick Diaz picked it off near the visitors' sideline.

"It's a really big boost for us," JeyaRajah said. "This whole week we've heard a lot of negative stuff about our team from some people even close to us, friends and people who go to our school. It was nice to show them, we're here to play. We had a couple of mistakes [against Western], but we're ready to go now."

JeyaRajah and Traylor had to go to the locker room. Before running off Traylor finally did a little bit of talking up, not of himself but of his team.

"Watch out for the Mustangs," he said.

matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo

*

Nonleague

Costa Mesa 45, Santiago 14

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Santiago 6 – 0 – 0 – 8 — 14

Costa Mesa 7 – 14– 14 – 10 — 45

FIRST QUARTER

CM – Smith 36 run (Lux kick), 10:04.

Sant – San Nicolas 23 pass from Sagastume (kick failed), 4:07.

SECOND QUARTER

CM – Bell 4 pass from JeyaRajah (Lux kick), 11:09.

CM – Traylor 61 pass from JeyaRajah (Lux kick), 6:32.

THIRD QUARTER

CM – Traylor 54 pass from JeyaRajah (Lux kick), 9:03.

CM – Traylor 36 pass from JeyaRajah (Lux kick), 2:59.

FOURTH QUARTER

Sant – Arteaga 4 run (Sagastume run), 10:10.

CM – Smith 12 run (Lux kick), 5:44.

CM – Lux 18 FG, 2:05.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

Sant – Sagastume, 17-107.

CM – Smith, 20-167, 2 TDs.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

Sant – Sagastume, 8-17-1, 159, 1 TD.

CM – JeyaRajah, 9-10-0, 194, 4 TDs.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

Sant – San Nicolas, 2-58, 1 TD.

CM – Traylor, 7-184, 3 TDs.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
54°