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Eagles' stunning victory off the charts

10/19/2013, 12:20am PDT
By Don Norcross

Every seat was taken at Jack Ashby field, but no one was using them.

San Pasqual players and coaches savor their victory over Mission Hills.

— Jack Ashby Field was squeezed tighter than a can of sardines, yet not a seat was filled. The sellout crowd stood on its feet.

“You ever seen a place like this?” said San Pasqual High strength coach James Eidson from the sideline, the Golden Eagles locked in a double overtime 10-10 tie against host Mission Hills. “This place is packed.”

“Does the fire marshal know about this?” said Golden Eagles alum Jack Dill.

Minutes later, Cameron Miller booted a 22-yard field goal, giving San Pasqual a 13-10 victory Friday night, emptying the visitors’ sideline.

Oh my gosh!” screamed San Pasqual halfback Wes Escher, sprinting toward a soon-to-be raucous circle of Eagles.

Yeahhhhhhhhhh!” hollered San Pasqual’s most decorated player, 6-foot-4, 235-pound middle linebacker Kyle Hendrickson.

This was No. 1 Mission Hills vs. No. 2 San Pasqual, and it was a stunner. While both teams came in 6-0, Mission Hills was the decided favorite. Beat perennial power Oceanside 30-6 and you’re the new king.

Not anymore. Forget waiting for the polls. The Golden Eagles just flew to No. 1.

The star of the game? Not Miller. Not Peter Ricardez, who scored the tying TD from a yard out on the second play of the fourth quarter.

JaJuan Thomas will be Big Man On Campus this week along Bear Valley Parkway. Kid won’t have to buy lunch for the rest of the season.

With the score 7-7 in the first OT and the Eagles facing a fourth-and-18 on the Grizzlies’ 33, Thomas ran a fly route down the left sideline, sped past a defender and pulled in a 28-yard catch.

Said Thomas, who caught six passes for 112 yards, “I figured I had to catch that ball to put my team in position to score.”

Thomas outdid himself in the second OT. This time the Eagles faced a third-and-10 on the Mission Hills 25. Quarterback Sebastian Tengan hung the ball up along the sideline. With a defender draped on him, Thomas extended his right hand, catching the ball one-handed for a 17-yard grab.

“It was like a Megatron-type catch,” said the Mighty 1090’s Craig Elsten, calling the radio play-by-play, evoking a comparison to the Lions’ Calvin Johnson.

“I had to catch the ball before the safety came over the top,” said Thomas.

Working his way through the postgame handshakes, Thomas was greeted with accolade after accolade from the Mission Hills coaching staff.

“Helluva game, young man,” said one coach.

“Just a helluva catch,” said another Mission Hills assistant.

Looking toward the future, there was one disappointment with the outcome. The teams won’t play again. Mission Hills resides in the Open Division. San Pasqual takes up residence in Division I.

A rematch would be nice, but won’t happen.

While few gave San Pasqual much of a chance, the Eagles didn’t buy the hype. In pregame warmups, San Pasqual came out in its traditional yellow capes. The Eagles ran through their yellow cutout. They tossed the capes skyward to the sideline.

“All the way, boys!” hollered San Pasqual assistant Ray Fisher. “It’s your time boys!”

Dan Poplava, a member of the Eagles’ booster club, was even more confident.

“This is our field!” yelled Poplava. “We’re taking over! This is our house!”

For one night, it was.

“At times it looked like it was over,” said San Pasqual head coach Tony Corley. “Our place-kicker is kind of a loose kid. We tried to lighten things up on the sideline, but that had to be the biggest athletic situation he’s ever been in.”

On one sideline, a Mission Hills song leader dabbed at tears streaking down her cheek.

Miller’s emotions soared at the opposite direction. After splitting the uprights, he sprinted toward the San Pasqual bench, his right index finger waving to the heavens.

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