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By Brian Park
If JSerra wants to prove they’re ready to compete in the tough Trinity League, they’ll need their playmakers to continue performing like they did Friday night.
Junior quarterback Nick Robinson and senior wide receiver Dante Pettis connected for three touchdowns, including a 68-yard strike on the second play from scrimmage, and the JSerra Lions came away with a 49-31 nonleague victory over the visiting Huntington Beach Oilers at Saddleback College.
Robinson threw for 287 yards and five touchdowns on 16 of 23 passing. Pettis caught six passes for 173 yards receiving. Senior running back Casey Eugenio was a force in the running and passing game, finishing with 105 yards rushing and a touchdown while adding 91 yards receiving and another score.
“They were playing us deep with a lot of soft man coverage, so our coaches just called plays to get us open and our quarterback found us,” Pettis said. “We’re a lot bigger, faster and stronger than we’ve ever been in the years before. We’re running a new offense that spreads everyone out. It allows us to use our speed.”
JSerra also got standout performances on defense and special teams. Junior defensive ends D.J. Bailey and Mitchell Deamon were pests in Huntington Beach’s backfield. The pair combined for three sacks, four tackles for loss and one fumble recovery.
“They’re good rush ends. I thought they were disruptive,” JSerra head coach Jim Hartigan said. “Both those guys are returning players and we expect them to have big games because of their experience. We need them to play big on the edge.”
On special teams, junior Ethan Aguayo returned a second quarter kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.
“I don’t think anyone touched me. I saw a lane, hit it and scored,” Aguayo said.
JSerra also converted on a fake punt in the third quarter when sophomore Conor O’Brien connected with Eugenio on a 41-yard fourth down conversion.
The teams traded offensive blows in the first half and entered the locker rooms with the score 28-21 in favor of JSerra.
Huntington Beach senior quarterback Kai Ross displayed his dual threat abilities all night, throwing for 228 yards and two touchdowns while running for 89 yards and another score. Ross also added an interception as a defensive back.
“He’s a good player and he made some plays. We were trying to keep pace with him. We tried to blitz him, and at time he made us pay. We settled down in the second half,” Hartigan said.
In the second half, Huntington Beach was the first to get onto the scoreboard, pulling within four on a 36-yard field goal by Malik Miller. But JSerra then went on to score 21 unanswered points on three touchdown passes by Robinson. Huntington Beach added another touchdown on a 13-yard pass from Ross to junior wide receiver Nolan Thompson in the game’s closing minute.
“There are big plays on this team. They have the ability to explode on you, if we execute,” Hartigan said.
JSerra improves to 2-0 and face Buena Park at Saddleback College next Friday, September 20. Huntington Beach fell to 2-1 and will host Trabuco Hills next week.