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Eagles stay grounded to top Mercy
The Eagles were able to fly on offense Saturday but did the bulk of their damage on the ground for a 52-28 win over Mercy at Sacred Heart School in Red Bluff.
Princeton High's Oscar Espinoza ran for 232 yards on 23 carries and scored four times, and running mate Gavino Mitchum found the end zone twice during his 17 attempts for 196 yards.
"We knew we were a good team and had to fight for the 'w','" said Espinoza. "In practice we kept running their defense from last season over and over. I've got to give a lot of credit to the line for blocks, they had an awesome game."
Mercy's Alejandro Guerrero was well on his way to a monster game running the ball, but an injury early in the second quarter took him out of the Warriors' running game after a first quarter in which he ran eight times for 95 yards and a touchdown.
"That took one of the best backs in the league out of the game," said Mercy coach Charlie Ford, "it also cut us down no nine with guys out with injuries or attitude. (Guerrero) is also our middle linebacker, so we had to shift guys around."
Mitchum scampered 33 yards for the Eagles' first score, and Lucas Hubbard connected with Luis Angel on the conversion pass to make it 8-0.
Guerrero answered with a 4-yard touchdown run but the PAT kick went wide, but Princeton scored again when Espinoza ran it in from 18 yards, with Hubbard finding Angel on the exact same play for the two-pointer.
Mercy quarterback Tommy Garcia scored on a 3-yard keeper and then after rolling right, threw back against the grain to Brenten James for the conversion that made it 16-14 at the end of the first period.
In the second quarter Mitchum scored his second TD from a yard out and Espinoza found the end zone again on a 5-yard burst to make it 28-14 at the half.
The Warriors went to the air on their first possession of the second half, when Garcia found Brandon Gorden behind his coverage, and Gorden completed a 65-yard scoring play untouched. The conversion was stopped, but the Warriors had closed the gap to 28-20 to make it a one-possession ballgame.
Except the Eagles also had possessions coming their way as well.
Espinzoa scored again on a 12-yard run, and on the second play of the fourth quarter, broke one 19 yards to the end zone.
Garcia scored again on a 2-yard carry after first looking to pass, and after Jordan Gonzales recovered a fumble for the Eagles on the Mercy 44, Kyle Wills completed the scoring with a 5-yard TD run.
"We wanted to control the line," Princeton coach Bryan Lex said. "We read how they lines up and audibled if we needed. Our ends still need to get up the field and get physical, but we did a great job up the middle. We need to seal the ends better."
With Guerrero out, William Gentry carried 10 times for 187 yards for the Warriors, and Garcia picked up 28 yards in 12 attempts.
Garcia also broke the school record for tackles with 18.
Mitchum made 13 tackles for the Eagles and Hubbard, 10. Espinoza and Julian Rosas both made sacks.
Princeton (2-0 South 8-Man, 3-3) play at Greenville (3-0 South-8, 4-2) on Friday.
Mercy (1-2 South-8, 2-4) hosts Loyalton Saturday. The Grizzlies come in 2-1 in league play, and 2-4 overall.
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like us on Facebook at TCN Sports; follow us on Twitter @TCNvarsity