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Eagles execute late, defeat River City, 51-28

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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In a test of early undefeated squads in the Sierra Valley Conference, the Vista del Lago football team remained unbeaten in league play after Friday night’s 51-28 victory over River City at Prairie City Stadium. The 23-point margin may have been misleading from the story of how it came to be. The game was tied heading into the final drive of the third quarter. River City drove 60 yards to knot the score at 28 with 3:40 in the third on Elijah Thomas’ pass to Malik Dumentz on fourth-and-goal. On the ensuing drive, Vista ended an 11-play drive with a six-yard Matt Jimison pass to Colin McCargo, which reclaimed the lead for the Eagles with one second left in the third quarter. After the kickoff, the first play from scrimmage in the fourth saw the Eagles force a fumble that was recovered by Austin Eberle, who ran it into the house to give Vista a 14-point swing in less than 10 seconds. The Eagles later tacked on nine more points in the final quarter to take the 51-28 win and move all alone into first place in the SVC. “We kept getting up but we were never in a comfortable position. (River City) put some heat on us. I was happy with the way we responded to that but I wasn’t necessarily happy about how it got to that point,” said Vista head coach Chris Jones. “It was great being able to get that defensive score. We blitzed a ton and put our corners out there on an island and made them go one-on-one with their receivers. Sometimes it went their way and others, we were able to disrupt their timing and get to the QB as well.” The Raiders didn’t allow Vista more than a two-touchdown lead in the first 24 minutes and began to put heat on the Eagles toward the end of the first half. AJ Gomez disappeared into a scrum of Eagle tacklers and somehow broke free out the other end and scored from 28 yards out to tie the game at seven. Mike Morales intercepted a pass that set up the Raiders’ second passing TD that cut the halftime deficit to seven. Sophomore quarterback Matt Jimison (27-32, 371 yards) threw three of his four touchdown passes in the first half—all for big yards. The first two went to Chris Cooper on 57- and 54-yard completions before Jimison connected with Tyler Kaim from 45 yards out. Josh Pfeffer tallied 119 yards on the ground and 91 more from the air to go with his first quarter touchdown. Kicker Anderz Mintz added a 31-yard field goal and junior backup QB Andrew Schantz ran three times for 56 yards and a score in his only series under center in the fourth quarter. “As soon as our sideline got in the game, our offense picked it up on the field. Being on the field, we can feel that presence. The D-line did a great job tonight,” said linebacker Nick Rametta, who was one of the main Eagles bringing the heat on the River City QB. “To be on top of the league right now feels great but we still have work to do.” Vista (6-1, 3-0 SVC) hosts Galt next Friday at Prairie City Stadium. JV Eagles 19, Raiders 14 The junior varsity Eagles were able to withstand a scrappy second-half effort from River City when the Raiders threatened on more than one occasion. After Ryan Wert found Mike McMahon for a five-yard score, the Eagles led 19-0 in the third. The Raiders were able to force a pair of fumbles while scoring two touchdowns from inside the Eagle five to cut the lead to 19-14. Vista’s defense was able to limit the damage from the River City turnovers and hang on for their fifth win of the season. “We all stuck together tonight. We felt like this game was kind of a defining point for our team. Knowing that, we played together at the end and held on. It was a good win for us,” said Vista head coach Dennis Valencia. “In the second half, we got a little sloppy but we were able to hang onto it. I think we’re right there in league. We’re playing together right now and we’re going to play out the rest of the way and try to win the remainder of these league games.”