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Reigning in the rain

11/30/2012, 11:31pm PST
By John Maffei

Three TD runs, tough defense boost Eastlake to Division I championship.

Eastlake defender Elijah Campbell hits Mission Hills quarterback Connor Wynn, causing a fumble that was recovered by the Titans.


— Aaron Baltazar scored on three short runs and ran for three time-killing, fourth-quarter first downs to lead Eastlake High to a 21-14 upset of the top-seeded Grizzlies on Friday night in the San Diego Section Division I championship game.

Baltazar’s final first-down thrust came on a key third-and-1 with 2:13 to play in the game, allowing the second-seeded Titans (10-3) to run out the clock.

The game was played in a steady, soaking rain at Escondido High with the rain going from light to heavy showers the entire contest. And Baltazar was playing in the cold and wet with a broken toe.

“I didn’t think he was going to play tonight,” said Eastlake coach John McFadden. “But he came out and showed his toughness.

“I tried to pull him out at one point, but he would have none of that.”

Baltazar, who has committed to play at Boise State, rushed 30 times for 128 yards, the first back to gain more than 100 yards in a game this season against Mission Hills.

The game’s first score was set up on a turnover when Elijah Campbell sacked Mission Hills quarterback Connor Wynn, forcing a fumble that was recovered at the Mission Hills 27 by Keifer Graham.

Six plays later, Baltazar bulled in from two yards out to cap a six-play drive.

Eastlake went up 14-0 midway through the second quarter when Baltazar scored from a yard out to cap a 12-play, 55-yard drive.

Baltazar carried six times on the drive for 23 yards.

Mission Hills countered with a six-play, 69-yard drive with 2:02 left in the half to cut the score in half at 14-7.

Wynn hit Devin Holiday with a 38-yard pass down the sideline to get the Grizzlies in scoring range at the Eastlake 16. But a key play was a roughing-the-passer penalty one down prior that moved the ball from the Mission Hills 31 to its 46.

Eastlake scored on its first possession of the second half, going 80 yards on 10 plays with Baltazar carrying it in from a yard out with 7:10 to play in the third quarter.

Baltazar had a 13-yard run on the drive and quarterback Tyrone Stevens threw for 52 yards, including a 38-yard strike to Vance Panaligan.

Mission Hills made the game interesting, driving 78 yards on 11 plays, and overcoming an offensive interference penalty to score on a 17-yard pass from Wynn to Brad Sochowski with 3:20 to play to make it 21-14.

Mission Hills coach Chris Hauser spurned the onside kick at that point, kicked to Eastlake, and the Titans managed to run out the clock.

“I thought we could force a punt,” said Hauser. “We made a decision to go that route. I thought we could stop them.”

On the rainy night, Wynn completed 27-of-42 passes for 307 yards and one TD, no interceptions.

“You can’t blame the weather on anything,” Wynn said. “It was on me.

“They played good defense, covered up guys really well.

“Give them credit, they played a better game than us.”

Mission Hills (10-3) had minus-3 yards rushing, mainly because Wynn was sacked six times for minus-19 yards.

Campbell had two of the sacks as did Blake Wilson.

Both those players had 10 sacks each coming into the game.

Mission Hills played most of the game without inside linebacker Ricky Liuchan, who went out with a knee injury in the first quarter and was on crutches with ice taped to his left knee most of the game.

“We didn’t win league, but it don’t matter now, does it?” said McFadden, who led Eastlake to its second title since 2009.

“This is great.”


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