Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
PACIFIC BEACH – Rain turned Mission Bay’s field into mush on Friday afternoon – and it suited the host Buccaneers just fine. Mission Bay scored all its points before halftime against Hoover and navigated rough second half conditions to down the Cardinals 16-0.
“We had a lot of fun,” said Mission Bay linebacker Isaac Griffin. “It was just going out there and playing ball no matter what the weather is.”
Mission Bay (4-4-1, 2-2 Western) used defense and special teams to grab an early advantage, scoring the game’s first points with a safety in the opening minutes. Buccaneers running back Chris Byrd returned the ensuing free kick 70 yards for a touchdown, putting Hoover (5-4, 2-2) in a nine-point hole in just 13 seconds.
“This is just like every Monday for us because the field is so bad,” said Mission Bay quarterback Nate Long. “We’re used to it.”
In the second quarter, Mission Bay extended its lead to 16-0 on a Long five-yard fade pass to receiver JaQuan Madyun. Long injured his ankle in the first quarter but only missed one series, leading the Buccaneers despite a noticeable limp.
“I couldn’t sit out the last home game of my high school career, so I had to suck it up and play,” Long said.
Wind and heavy rain greeted both teams at the start of the second half, and the soggy field conditions turned the game into a defensive struggle. Neither team scored after halftime as Mission Bay maintained its two-possession advantage for the rest of the game.
“In the second half we couldn’t throw the ball at all, so we just had to hand it off,” Long said. “Occasionally we had some bad snaps because the ball was so wet. We pulled it off and we tried to make it work the best that we could.”
Rain and muddy field conditions hampered both teams throughout the game, but Mission Bay’s size and power running withstood the elements better than Hoover’s speed-based spread attack. Buccaneers players celebrated the win by sliding through the mud in the middle of the field after the game.
“This is my house right here,” said a mud-covered Griffin after the game. “I love it.”
Pictured: Mission Bay receiver JaQuan Madyun hauls in a touchdown pass in front of Hoover defensive back Michael Picot