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Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 9
Mavericks shine in second half to upset Pirates
OCEANSIDE – A slow start may have kept La Costa Canyon in obscurity early in the season, but the Mavericks can’t hide any longer. Friday night at Oceanside, ninth-ranked La Costa Canyon climbed out of an early hole and outplayed the fourth-ranked Pirates in the second half to deliver a 21-16 upset.
“We haven’t been able to get this one in forever,” said La Costa Canyon senior running back Isaac Maquet. “It’s about time we got them.”
Oceanside (5-2-1, 1-1 Avocado West) scored the first 10 points of the game and led 13-7 at halftime. La Costa Canyon (6-2, 3-0) received the ball to start the third quarter and marched 61 yards in four minutes – mostly on the ground – to take a 14-13 lead on a Deon Dickey 3-yard touchdown run.
“We just went into the locker room and said let’s do what we’ve done all year, establish the ground game and win this football game,” Maquet said. “We tried to do some different things in the first half and then we just said let’s get back to what we do.”
On the first play of the fourth quarter, La Costa Canyon defensive back Zane O’Brien intercepted a pass by Oceanside quarterback Tofi Pao Pao to give the Mavericks the ball near midfield. Powered again by the run game, the Mavericks took just more than a minute to make it a 21-13 game on a Dickey 6-yard touchdown run with 10:40 left.
“The offensive line was opening up big holes and we had the stretch play going backside both ways – it was just money,” Maquet said.
Oceanside answered on the next drive with a Fernando Elizarraraz 35-yard field goal – his third of the game – to make it a five-point contest with 7:50 remaining. On the drive, the Pirates quickly drove into La Costa Canyon territory, but couldn’t make it inside the 20-yard line as the Mavericks defense tightened to prevent a touchdown.
“The defense played great the entire night,” said La Costa Canyon head coach Sean Sovacool. “We have tough football players and they get to the ball.”
In the final six minutes of the game, La Costa Canyon stopped Oceanside twice to secure the victory. With 27 seconds left the Pirates had the ball inside the Mavericks 40-yard line, but after Pao Pao was sacked Oceanside was forced to make a desperation heave to the end zone that fell incomplete as time expired.
“We prepared really hard all week and we worked hard,” said La Costa Canyon defensive back Kyle Mummau. “We recognized their plays and we knew what we were doing.”
La Costa Canyon’s defense both preserved the victory in the closing minutes and kept the game close in the first half. After a Mavericks punt pinned Oceanside deep in its own territory midway through the second quarter, La Costa Canyon defensive back Noah May hit running back Jayce Whittaker and forced a fumble that defensive end Gabe Staab fell on in the end zone.
“We can’t give them turnover points and that’s really what it comes down to,” said Oceanside head coach John Carroll.
After halftime, La Costa Canyon took control of the game and outperformed Oceanside on both sides of the ball. On defense the Mavericks held the Pirates to three points, and on offense they rushed for more than 100 yards against the Pirates.
“It was the same team, it was just that the ball was caught and wasn’t dropped,” Sovacool said. “There were minor adjustments after halftime.”
With the victory, La Costa Canyon stands one win away from the Avocado West League Crown. The Mavericks have won five games in a row since starting the season 1-2.
“We had those two tough losses in the beginning and we started practicing differently, turned it around and just got better each week,” Mummau said. “We’re still getting better.”
After pulling out a last-second win against Ramona last week, Oceanside could not do the same against La Costa Canyon. Offensive miscues throughout the game kept the Pirates from prevailing.
“With guys out I thought we played a great character game,” Carroll said. “I’m incredibly proud of the effort level we put forth and we could have won that thing.”