Artavia, Glendale football sprint past Vasquez for victory

GLENDALE — Over the first two drives of Glendale High's nonleague football game Thursday night, it appeared as though the game had all the makings for a one-sided Nitros' rout.

Then momentum became a fickle thing, mistakes were made, punt after punt took place and Glendale found itself all tied up with visiting Vasquez entering the fourth quarter.

But in the fourth quarter, senior quarterback Tyler Artavia and his Nitros took over.

Artavia rushed for 135 yards in 17 carries and four touchdowns, with three coming in the pivotal fourth quarter, as the Nitros ran away with a long-awaited victory over Vasquez, 35-14, at Moyse Field.

"I'm just ecstatic," said Artavia, who also completed 10 of 28 passes for 153 yards. "It's a relief. I'm happy to have our first home win in a long time and I'm hoping for a lot more."

Glendale (1-2), playing its home opener and nonleague finale, snapped an 11-game losing streak, along with a five-game skid as the home team at Moyse, with its win over Vasquez (2-1).

"It feels great, we needed that," second-year Nitros Coach George Maiale said. "First half, it got a little sloppier than we'd like to see, but we fought back."

Tied at 14 early in the fourth quarter, Glendale's defense hung tough and Artavia scored on runs of three, 25 and two yards to claim victory and a cause for celebration.

The first drive of the game saw Glendale force a three-and-out against a Vasquez team that had averaged 41 points over its first two games. Then the Nitros took a 7-0 lead on the strength of a Carlos Ramos one-yard touchdown run.

However, an interception and a lost fumble followed for the Glendale offense, with each turnover equating to Vasquez touchdowns and a 14-7 deficit for the home team.

Glendale tied it on a three-yard second-quarter score by Artavia, but the third quarter remained a stalemate as the teams combined for five punts, with only a Glendale fake punt gone awry and a fumble recovery by Nitro Luis Alvarez the only other way drives ended.

"The middle [of the game] was just like, 'C'mon,'" Maiale said of all the mistakes.

In the fourth quarter, though, Glendale's no-huddle offense and Vasquez' 23-man roster began to take effect.

"Fourth quarter, they were really tired," Artavia said. "That's what our offense is supposed to do."

Glendale's defense held the Vasquez double-wing offense to just 166 rushing yards after it averaged 272 in its previous games. Passing-wise, Vasquez had just 58 yards and 18 incompletions on 25 attempts.

With 11:12 to go in the game, Glendale took over on its 37-yard-line and marched to the game-winning touchdown — which was a three-yard keeper by Artavia — thanks in large part to a 26-yard run from the quarterback and a 27-yard pass to Alvarez.

Matthew Torres notched the tackle on fourth and three of the ensuing drive to give Glendale the ball back on its 49.

From there, Artavia busted through the middle for a 25-yard score with 6:20 to go.

The Nitros, who had gone for squib and onside kicks much of the game, sent a squib up the middle and recovered it. Keyed by a 45-yard run from Nate Huiza (15 carries for 89 yards), the Nitros scored again with Artavia scoring from two yards.

Ramos ran eight times for 57 yards, all in the first half, as he sat out the second half with a right leg injury. Glendale receiver Anthony Luna also hauled in four catches for 83 yards.

It all added up to the end of a losing streak and plenty of reasons to smile for the Nitros.

Said Maiale: "I'm real proud of all of them."