Slow second half dooms Trojans
VICTORVILLE • A long third-quarter drive for the Excelsior football team helped seal a 26-7 victory over Silver Valley on Friday.
The Eagles used 10 minutes, 20 seconds on the drive, charging 80 yards on 18 plays, and running back Jordan Griffith capped it with a 9-yard run.
Head coach William Rivera knew his team had to keep the Trojans offense off the field to pull off the victory.
"We knew that we needed to control the ball," Rivera said. "They have way too many athletes, they are faster than we are at every position. We needed to neutralize their speed and keep control of the ball. If we have the ball, good things happen."
Excelsior (5-1; 2-1 Desert Mountain League) handed the Trojans their second straight loss and their first defeat in league play.
Excelsior kept the chains moving in the first quarter, piling up 99 yards on the ground. Fullback Rocky Sua put the Eagles on the board scoring on a one-yard TD run.
On the ensuing drive, a 31-yard touchdown reception by Roman Walton pulled the Trojans within one point.
With 1:30 left in the first half, Silver Valley quarterback Evan Martinez connected with Bailey Rettmann for a 29-yard pass. After a holding penalty, Excelsior's Aubrey Merritt picked off Martinez. After a three-and-out by the Eagles, Martinez was picked off again to end the first half.
Eagles' QB Nathaniel Rivera, who was announced the homecoming king at halftime, connected with Caleb Becker for a 16 TD and rushed for a TD to put the game out of the Trojans’ reach.
Silver Valley head coach John Stewart said injuries, missed opportunities, and another road game contributed to the loss.
"This is our fourth away game in a row and it's taking its toll," Stewart said. "We have one more road game to get through next week. That third-quarter drive took the wind out of us, we just couldn't stop them. But my kids played their hearts out. We were just missing something tonight."
The Eagles finished the game with 292 total rushing yards, including 82 from Lionel Liqui and 76 from Griffith. Rivera, nursing an ankle injury, finished with just two completions for 21 yards and had three carries for 13 yards.
Excelsior travels to play Mammoth next week, while Silver Valley has to travel for the fifth consecutive week to Vasquez before ending the season with three home games.
"I think our away schedule was close to 1,000 miles round-trip," Stewart said. "We're looking for some home cooking."