Walter Mencken 9:23 a.m., Oct. 10
Pirates stuff Marauders in defensive struggle
MIRA MESA – Oceanside prides itself in defense and against Mira Mesa on Friday night, the Pirates relied on it. Second-ranked Oceanside rode a stellar defensive effort to a 17-3 victory over the eighth-ranked Marauders.
“We were holding them almost every down of every drive,” said Oceanside defensive back Alijah Holder. “We tried our best and we wanted it more.”
In the final minute of a first half filled with mistakes and penalties, Oceanside (2-1) broke a scoreless tie with a Ryshaud Keegan 2-yard touchdown run. Keegan fumbled the ball on the run, but officials determined he was in the end zone before the ball came loose.
“Regardless, we have to hold on to the football and we’re not happy about that at all,” said Oceanside head coach John Carroll. “That’s been three weeks in a row, and that has to get fixed immediately.”
Mira Mesa (1-1) got the ball to start the second half and methodically marched down the field. After a stagnant first half offensively, the Marauders found quick success in the third quarter by alternating senior Dominic Richardson and junior Trey Lomax at quarterback.
“That was a good drive,” said Mira Mesa head coach Gary Blevins. “It kind of shocked them and they weren’t ready for that. But they’re a good team; they made adjustments and that went away.”
The Marauders drove down to the Oceanside 10-yard line before the Pirates defense stiffened and the drive stalled. Mira Mesa chewed up almost seven minutes on the drive but had to settle for a 22-yard Miguel Renteria field goal that made it 7-3 instead of a game-tying score.
“That was huge. They made some key plays to make that drive continue, and then defensively we became stout and finished it,” Carroll said.
Oceanside added a Fernando Elizarraraz 21-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, and on the ensuing drive the Pirates’ defense delivered the knockout blow. Holder intercepted a Richardson pass — the sophomore’s second pick of the game — and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown that put Oceanside ahead 17-3 with eight minutes to play.
“I was just trying to read the quarterback,” Holder said. “I broke on the ball, was in great position to make the interception, got it, and just took it back. It felt great.”
The Pirates stopped Mira Mesa one more time to preserve the victory. Oceanside held the talented Marauders to only a field goal and allowed Mira Mesa only one trip inside the red zone.
“The defense was huge,” Carroll said. “I think our defense just played fantastic.”
Oceanside’s defense made up for its offense, which struggled all game against Mira Mesa’s defensive pressure. The Pirates also fumbled twice in the game, including once at the goal line in the first half.
“Our protection wasn’t good, we held onto the ball too long, and our receivers did not run some good routes,” Carroll said. “We moved the ball and we didn’t put them away until the interception.”
Mira Mesa looked good for stretches against Oceanside but couldn’t make enough plays to hang with the Pirates. Playing in only their second game of the season, the Marauders at times looked like they were still getting settled to a new offensive scheme.
“We’re doing a ramped-up offense using cards and calling plays in. We have to continue to keep working on that,” Blevins said. “A couple things didn’t click for us.”
Pictured: Mira Mesa running back Jalen Fields tries to find an opening in the Oceanside defense with Pirates linebacker Juan Villagomez closing in
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