After starting running back Louie Jacobs left with an injury, Escondido needed someone to step up, and Josh Navarro leapt forward.
The junior ran for a game-high 115 yards and two scores to lead the Cougars past Rancho Bernardo 21-7 in the season opener for both teams at Escondido’s Chick Embrey Field on Friday.
The Cougars have now beaten the Broncos in consecutive opening-day contests.
Escondido quarterback Mitch Grimes (3-for-10, 93 yards) completed only two passes through the first three quarters, but they were both big ones — 43- and 49-yard strikes to Quenton Todd to set up the Cougars’ first two scores, a pair of 1-yard TD runs by Navarro.
Junior Dominic Taylor’s 5-yard TD run with 1:44 left in the game sealed the win.
After an evenly played first half, the teams went to the break tied at 7 on a pair of short, second-quarter TD runs.
Rancho Bernardo senior Mike Searson, who completed 15-of-33 throws for 139 yards on the night, capped an 80-yard, 13-play drive with a 1-yard plunge to put the Broncos ahead with 5:51 left in the half.
Escondido came right back, driving 80 yards in nine plays to tie the game on Navarro’s 1-yard run with 1:09 left.