Friday night’s Southern League matchup between Turlock Christian (3-5), and Denair (1-7), dealt TC its fifth straight loss as Denair picked up its second consecutive win.
The Eagles stepped on to the field Friday night coming off a 55-0 loss against Le Grand High last week. Things looked good for TC after returning the onside opening kickoff to take over the ball at mid field. However, their first possession was short lived as the Denair defense forced the three and out. Both teams were unable to convert on their respective first drives and the Eagles had the ball back on the Coyote 30 yard line.
TC’s work horse running back, Malik Portillo, got the action started as he sprung a 26 yard run to put the Eagles in Denair territory. Quarterback, Chase Gonzalez, took advantage of the field position gained by Portillo by finding Nick Steeley for a 35 yard touchdown pass and the first score of the night. After a failed TC two point attempt, the scoreboard read 6-0 in favor of the Eagles.
Denair was quick to answer back on the subsequent drive covering 78 yards on 13 plays, finally finding pay dirt with an eight yard Dominyc Silva touchdown pass. Silva completed three passes on the drive to pick up 54 passing yards. With the extra point good, Denair took over the lead 7-6.
Portillo put the team on his back again in their next possession as he picked up 48 yards on just four carries. The Denair defense could not seem to wrap up as Portillo continually picked up significant yards after contact on each carry. The Eagles worked their way inside the 15 yard line but were unable to convert after four incomplete passes on the drive.
The two teams traded scores into the second quarter. With 2:16 left in the half and TC trailing 13-12, Portillo and Gonzalez worked together to march down the field giving the Eagles a chance to take the lead before heading to the locker room. However, with 00:33 on the clock, Gonzalez was sacked by a host of Coyote defenders and then his pass landed in the hands of Denair corner back, Conor Sosa, on the ensuing play.
It was anyone’s game going into the second half, but it was Denair who stepped up to the challenge scoring twice in the third quarter. The first touchdown came on a nine play drive that put the ball in the hands of running back Alex Valle on every play as he ran right up the middle picking up 30 yards.
TC was simply beat at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The Eagle defense managed to keep Denair’s passing game to a minimum; however they did get beat on deep passes in a couple key situations that resulted in big gains for the Coyotes.
Heading into the fourth quarter the Eagles had their work cut out for them as they trailed 25-12. They would go on to score once more on a Gonzalez-to-Steeley pass, but the Coyotes answered right back with an 80 yard Valle kickoff return to the house. From there TC found themselves in a big hole that they never worked their way out of.
Tyler Kindle took advantage of the short game offered up by the Eagle defense, running the ball right up the middle eight consecutive times, much like the earlier drive by Valle, to put the nail in the coffin for the final score of 39-18.
Portillo racked up 213 yards of total offense on the night but it was not enough, as the Eagles dropped their fifth game in a row.
TC will look to get back on track next Friday as they travel to Delhi to take on the Hawks. Denair will take on Waterford at home.