Marcos de Niza used a big second half to overcome a sloppy and undisciplined first half to rally for a 45-27 win over Laveen Cesar Chavez in a Division II game Friday at Cesar Chavez.
The No. 4 Padres (9-1) came out looking unfocused and possibly already looking ahead to the state playoffs as they were flagged for eight penalties for a total of 45 yards in the first half. Quarterback Josh Eckley also was intercepted twice in the first half and the Padres went into the locker room down 13-10.
“We came out thinking they were just going to fold because they haven’t played a good team and they’re a very good team,” Eckley said.
In the second half, however, the Padres came out focused and determined to run the ball to wear down the No. 5 Champions (9-1), who had only given up an average of seven points per game coming into Friday’s contest.
“We know we had a bad half, but we came right back up,” Marcos running back Mauriece Lee said. “We were just unfocused a for a little bit in the first half, but we came back in the second half and we brought it to them.”
The Padres’ plan worked as they outscored Chavez 35-14 in the second half. It worked thanks to the two-headed monster of Lee and Eckley.
“You better have an answer for Mauriece…and throw Josh in there too,” Marcos coach Roy Lopez said.
Lee finished with 158 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries.
“Mauriece did exactly what we told him to do and that’s run the ball and he did a very good job at it,” Eckley said.
Eckley completed 9-of-19 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns.
“The coaches wanted me to start taking over and being the leader that I am,” Eckley said. “Just come out hard and fast. We made some good adjustments.”
Having defeated the previously undefeated Champions to end the regular season, Lee feels good about the momentum this gives the Padres heading into the postseason.
“I’ve got a feeling we’re about to win state,” Lee said. “That’s my feeling right now. We’ve got two home games going into the playoffs and we have momentum now.”
“I’m glad we won this game and I’m looking forward to the playoffs.”
Eckley recognizes, though, that a tough path is ahead for the Padres if they want to ultimately be crowned state champions.
“We have a lot of steps and our team has to see that,” Eckley said. “We’re not the only good team and this is just another win and we have to be ready for the second part of our season.”
First Downs: MDN 18; CC 11
Rushes-Yards: MDN 46-259; CC 27-99
Passing Yards: MDN 209; CC 138
Comp-Att-Int: MDN 9-19-2; CC 13-26-3
Fumbles-Lost: MDN 1-1; CC 0-0
Penalties-Yards: MDN 13-93; CC 8-65
M – Lee 6 run (Jones kick)
M – Jones 44 FG
C – Griffin 25 run (Macias kick)
C – Lewis 4 run (kick blocked)
M – Moore 36 pass from Eckley (Jones kick)
M – Lee 3 run (Jones kick)
C – Lewis 3 run (run failed)
M – Johnson 3 run (Jones kick)
M – Elvira 9 pass from Eckley (Jones kick)
C – Bryant 23 pass from Macias (Shans pass from Macias)
M – Lee 10 run (Jones kick)