LAGUNA HILLS- Laguna Hills spent the better part of the first half sputtering on offense and watching Trabuco Hills march up and down the field.
It was good thing for the Hawks that the Mustangs were unable to take advantage of Laguna Hills’ slow start.
Laguna Hills (1-0), ranked No. 1 in the Southern Division, came alive in the second half and ran away from Trabuco Hills (0-1), ranked No. 3 in the Southwest Division, en route to a 26-6 nonleague victory on Friday night at Laguna Hills High.
“Our kids are pretty resilient, and they are not going to give up just because they’ve been hit with adversity,” Laguna Hills coach Bruce Ingalls said. “They are going to keep playing.”
Trabuco Hills completely dominated the first quarter, but the Mustangs had nothing to show for their hard work.
Twice the Mustangs drove deep into Laguna Hills territory. Their first drive stalled at Laguna Hills’ 21-yard line, which left it up to kicker Mitchell Murar for a 38-yard field goal attempt. Murar had plenty of leg on his kick, but it missed just to the right.
Trabuco Hills put together another time-consuming drive on its second possession. The Mustangs switched off between running backs Shane DeCillo and Danny Arriola, who were equally effective.
Quarterback Jason Mayer mixed in some nice passes, but the drive stalled at Laguna Hills’ 19-yard line.
Murar’s second field goal try of 37 yards was long enough once again, but it to missed to the right by a few feet.
Trabuco Hills had the ball on offense for over nine minutes in the first quarter.
The Mustangs’ first possession of the second quarter produced a 32-yard field goal from Murar to the Mustangs a a 3-0 lead.
Laguna Hills’ Matt Martindale got an interception with 1:19 left in the first half, which seemed to shift the momentum to the Hawks. Derek Browning broke a 24-yard run. Laguna Hills Robert Refsnyder, the Pacific Coast League MVP last season as a wideout/defensive back, got his first start at quarterback and connected with Tyler Young on a 45-yard pass play to set up Richie Hogan’s tying field goal just before the half expired.
Just like that, the Hawks were back in the game.
Laguna Hills’ offensive produced some big holes in the second half and Browning and Matt Giovinazzo capitalized as the Hawks got the ground game rolling. Refsnyder had the one big pass in the first half, but mostly he did a solid job managing the offense and not turning the ball over.
The Hawks opened the second half with an eight-play, 63-yard drive, which all came on the ground. Giovinazzo capped it with a 10-yard scoring run.
Martindale had another big play on defense, recovering recovered a fumble at Trabuco Hills’ 44 to end the third quarter. Browning opened the fourth with a 44-yard scoring run and a 16-6 lead.
Sophomore Ryan Ur clinched it for the Hawks with a 96-yard interception return for a TD with a little over a minute left.
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