WILDOMAR ---- In the battle of wing-T offenses, it was Elsinore's special teams that won.
The Tigers blocked two punts that led to two touchdowns as Elsinore topped Chula Vista Otay Ranch, 28-16, at Elsinore High School.
"We scored just one touchdown on offense," Tigers coach Tony Peralta said. "It was two wing-T offenses going at each other that can simulate the other one (in practice) so they know how to defend against it. Both teams struggled, but we did enough on special teams and with some big plays on defense. It made the difference tonight."
Lewis Ward blocked a first quarter punt that gave the ball to the Tigers on Otay Ranch's 16. Quarterback Matt Patten scored a touchdown on a one-yard keeper to put Elsinore up 8-0 with three seconds left in the first quarter. Allan Stubbs scooped up a Mustang's fumble and ran it back 90 yards for the score to push Elsinore's lead to 14-0 after the two-point attempt failed with 7:09 remaining in the first half.
After a Mustangs' field goal, the Elsinore special teams struck again as Daniel Rodriguez blocked another punt and Seth Middlemas picked it up and ran it 21 yards into the end zone to give the Tigers a 21-3 halftime advantage.
"Our defense kept us in it and our blocked punts on special teams gave us a boost," Peralta said. "(Otay Ranch) didn't back down. They have a lot of size and talent and kept after us on offense."
After a scoreless third quarter, the Mustangs finally found the end zone when quarterback Marcus Hernandez ran the ball in from five yards out with 7:30 to play. It was a costly run for Hernandez, who threw for 201 yards on 15-of-28 passing, as he left the game with an injury and did not return.
The Tigers made them pay as defensive lineman Zach Dembrowski picked off Hernandez's replacement, Cody Springsuth, and rumbled 35 yards for a touchdown to put the game away 28-10 with 2:04 to play.
Chula Vista added a late touchdown on 18-yard run by David Monday.
Peralta wasn't pleased with the results on offense which ran for just 66 yards ---- just slightly more than the 60 yards accumulated on penalties.
"It's the first game and we will take what we can get, but we have a lot of work to do to get better," Peralta said.