Leading up to the first-place showdown in the Orange Coast League with Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa Coach Wally Grant talked about a track meet. He watched the Eagles score touchdowns in a hurry on the football field last week, producing a school-record 62 points.
If Friday's game was a track meet, Calvary Chapel dropped the baton and flung it around way too many times.
Six turnovers cost Calvary Chapel and helped Costa Mesa clinch at least a share of the league title. The Mustangs finished ahead of the Eagles, 58-41, at Jim Scott Stadium.
The finish line for Costa Mesa (6-3, 4-0 in league) is next week on the road, where it can wrap up its second undefeated league title in five years. In the way is Laguna Beach (5-4, 2-2), the same team that Grant saw come up six points short in overtime last week against Calvary Chapel.
"We didn't come this far not to finish it," Grant said of the Mustangs becoming the outright league champions. "We want 5-0. That's why I was brought on [as the head coach two years ago]. We're not settling."
On the same field Grant saw Laguna Beach tear up Calvary Chapel's defense on the ground, he went to his workhorse, Oronde Crenshaw. All Crenshaw managed to do was rush for a career-high 377 yards. It took the senior 43 carries to amass the total. Five of those carries went for touchdowns, the longest a 78-yarder.
Crenshaw's performance wasn't the type Calvary Chapel (7-2, 3-1) surrendered the previous week to Laguna Beach's Nathan Lancaster, who set an Orange County single-game record with 547 yards on 30 carries. Nevertheless, Crenshaw's effort, which ranks 10th in county history, more than stood out in Grant's eyes.
"It's up there," Grant said, referring to where Crenshaw ranks in single-game performances with other Costa Mesa tailbacks. "When I was coaching in the early '90s with [Costa Mesa coach] Myron [Miller] … Charles Chatman ran for [a school-record 414 yards in 1994], so that's right up there with the best."
Crenshaw, with his offensive line paving the way, never let up. He rushed 18 times for 182 yards and three touchdowns in the second half, putting away Calvary Chapel.
The Eagles suffered their first setback in league and along with it went their six-game winning streak. With one league game left, their league championship hopes took a hit. The Eagles last claimed a league title in 1991, back in the Arrowhead League.
Six turnovers hurt the Eagles' chances to clinch a share of the league crown on Friday. Four of those turnovers led to 24 Mustang points in the first three quarters.
Calvary Chapel is a pass-happy team with quarterback Danny Mattero, and with good reason. Last week, the senior threw for 505 yards, the third-best single-game total in county history.
With the Eagles trailing 30-21 at halftime, they decided to keep it on the ground at the start of the second half. They gave up the ball right away. On the second play from scrimmage, tailback Braeden Stack fumbled for the second time. And for the second time, the Mustangs took advantage.
Costa Mesa started the drive on Calvary Chapel's 28, and ended it in the end zone. Crenshaw went left on a nine-yard run to push Costa Mesa's lead to 37-21. Then the teams went back and forth, matching each other's touchdowns.
Mattero rushed for his second one-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and he threw two second-half touchdown passes. He finished 18 of 34 for 290 yards and four touchdowns.
Mattero's mistakes were the three passes Costa Mesa intercepted. One of those picks linebacker Quinton Bell returned 13 yards for a touchdown late in the first half. The other two were by Crenshaw, a middle linebacker, and defensive back Daniel Lawrence.
While Costa Mesa quarterback Oliver Ferris didn't throw for as many yards and touchdowns as Mattero, he connected with Bell, a receiver, on two scores. The biggest was a 60-yarder late in the third quarter. Ferris kept the defense honest at times, completing five of seven passes for 111 yards, with only one interception.
"We got to get ready for Laguna," Crenshaw said of a team looking to earn one of the league's three automatic CIF Southern Section Southern Division playoff berths. "[The Breakers] put up 10 times better numbers than we did tonight against Calvary Chapel. I know that they're going to want to come out itching for a fight because they've lost their last two games."
Costa Mesa 58, Calvary Chapel 41
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Calvary 14 – 7 – 7 – 13 – 41
Mesa 16 – 14 – 14 – 14 – 58
CM – Bell 6 pass from Ferris (Curet kick), 7:08.
CM – Curet 34 FG, 5:28.
CC – Cox 2 pass from Mattero (Eikeri kick), 2:54.
CM – Crenshaw 78 run (kick failed), 1:59.
CC – Mattero 1 run (Eikeri kick), :00.
CM – Crenshaw 1 run (Curet kick), 4:25.
CM – Bell 13 interception return (Curet kick), 1:59.
CC – Kaeser 20 pass from Mattero (Eikeri kick), 3:25.
CM – Crenshaw 9 run (Curet kick), 9:52.
CC – Mattero 1 run (Eikeri kick), 3:03.
CM – Bell 60 pass from Ferris (Curet kick), :20.
CC – Meldrum 19 pass from Mattero (Eikeri kick), 10:00.
CM – Crenshaw 5 run (Curet kick), 7:15.
CC – Cox 32 pass from Mattero (run failed), 3:11.
CM – Crenshaw 18 run (Curet kick), :32.
CC – Mattero, 12-76, 2 TDs.
CM – Crenshaw, 43-377, 5 TDs.
CC – Mattero, 18-34-3, 290, 4 TDs.
CM – Ferris, 5-7-1, 111, 2 TDs.
CC – Thompson, 9-126.
CM – Bell, 2-66, 2 TDs.