In the week leading up to kickoff, some billed it as the Peter Costelli show.
The junior quarterback was facing his former school for the first time since transferring from Santa Margarita to nearby Mission Viejo and it was expected that he’d come out slinging the ball all over the yard.
But the Diablos erased all the hype behind that theory early, putting their running backs to use early and often.
Mission Viejo tallied 258 yards rushing in 42 carries, most of the damage coming in the first half, as the Diablos outlasted Santa Margarita 21-10 Friday night in a nonleague game at Trabuco Hills High School.
“There’s always a little pressure because it’s a good rivalry,” said Costelli, who went 9-for-11 passing for 96 yards with one touchdown and one interception. “Their defense was dropping eight, so why throw when they were giving us the box to run the ball? It was smart play calling.”
Mission Viejo (2-0) opened the game running 16 times in their first 17 plays, and that trend continued throughout the first half as the Diablos kept the ball on the ground 26 times compared with five pass attempts in the first half.
Both Tyson Scott and Jacquez Robertson had over 100 yards rushing in half. Scott’s came in four carries with a 99-yard touchdown run and Robertson’s in 20 bruising rushes, including a two-yard score.
Costelli was efficient when he did go to the air, completing all five of his pass attempts in the first half for 80 yards and a touchdown, helping the Diablos take a 21-0 lead into halftime.
Santa Margarita (1-1) emerged from the locker room with a renewed sense of energy on defense.
Shane Cova got the Eagles on the board in the third quarter as he forced a fumble at midfield and scampered to the end zone to cut Mission Viejo’s lead to 14 at the 6:20 mark of the period.
Tyler Hartigan was the next Santa Margarita defender to make a play. His interception in the fourth quarter led to a 29-yard field goal from Connor Teasely, which cut the Diablos’ lead down to 21-10 with 6:32 left in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles’ offense had a couple of opportunities to cut into the lead but didn’t have enough to break through the Mission Viejo defense.