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Defense, passing game help Buccaneers end three-game slide

LINDA VISTA – Kearny hosted its only true home game of the season on Friday afternoon at Birt Slater Field – and Western League foe Mission Bay crashed the party. The Buccaneers found the end zone in each of the first three quarters and forced five turnovers in a 22-0 shutout victory over the Komets.

“Throughout practice this week, we were saying that the defensive line had to win this game – and that’s pretty much what happened,” said Mission Bay senior linebacker Donshay Bandy. “We got our heads on straight and we played ball.”

Both offenses struggled early, and Mission Bay (4-3, 1-1 Western) took to the air late in the first quarter to break through its slow start. Buccaneers sophomore quarterback Devon Johnson lobbed a fade pass to junior Andre Petties-Wilson, who outjumped a Kearny defender to haul in a 19-yard touchdown for the game’s first score.

“Coach called my number, but he switched me to the other side,” Petties-Wilson said. “I’ve been having problems all this week with fade routes, but I just tracked it down – it happened fast but I’m glad I caught the ball.”

With less than a minute remaining before halftime, Mission Bay extended its lead over Kearny (2-5, 0-2) with a trick play. Senior running back James Phillips took a pitch outside and fired a pass to wide-open senior receiver Kelly Weese for a 36-yard touchdown, a halfback pass with less than a minute left that put the Buccaneers ahead 14-0.

“I just hoped that he was open and that nobody was in front of him – we practice that play a lot,” Phillips said.

On the opening possession of the second half, Mission Bay increased its lead to three scores with a 79-yard touchdown drive. A 34-yard pass from Johnson to senior receiver Kyle Plum capped the drive, the third passing touchdown for a Buccaneers team that has done most of its damage this season with a physical rushing attack.

“Our first goal is always to establish the run game then pass. The run game was looking a little shaky, so we started passing it,” Petties-Wilson said. “The quarterbacks were executing really nice today – it was one of the best games of the season for them.”

Kearny had the ball deep in Mission Bay territory on two separate occasions in the second half, but each drive ended with the Buccaneers’ defense forcing a turnover. The game slowed to a crawl in a scoreless, penalty-filled fourth quarter as Mission Bay recorded its first shutout of the season.

“In every game we lost we beat ourselves, so we knew that if we fixed the minor mistakes then we were definitely going to come in here and win,” Bandy said.

With the victory, Mission Bay ended a three-game losing streak and picked up its first Western League win. Kearny has lost four of its last five games since winning its season opener.

“This game was really important to us, because we knew that if we didn’t get this win then our CIF hopes were all gone,” Bandy said. “It starts from here and we’re just going to continue winning.”

Pictured: Kearny senior receiver Michael Green eludes a Mission Bay defender along the sideline

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