Tempe Marcos de Niza scored three second-quarter touchdowns in 42 seconds to turn Friday’s defensive struggle with Notre Dame Prep into a rout.
The fourth-ranked Padres beat the sixth-ranked Saints 42-0 in the season opener for the Division II teams at Scottsdale Community College Friday.
Junior quarterback Josh Eckley threw a pair of second quarter touchdown passes and Padres defensive back Khadeem Stewart wrapped up the productive second period with a 34-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Eckley, a newcomer in the Padres lineup, threw three TDs on the night and completed 14-of-23 passes for 234 yards and one interception.
He settled in after a slow start. Marcos de Niza did not have a first-quarter first down. Eckley went 5-of-6 for 48 yards on the team’s initial 57-yard scoring drive. It ended on a 3-yard touchdown run from versatile senior running back Mauriece Lee.
“I think there were nerves for everyone,” said Eckley. “We hadn’t played in a long time and I’m a rookie at this. We got in a groove and started playing like we should.”
It was only 7-0 when the Saints punted the ball back to the Padres with 4:41 remaining in the half. Eckley opened the series from his own 34 with a 47-yard pass to Royal Bailey. Three plays later, he found Arizona-commitment Lee for a 13-yard score.
After the Padres recovered a Notre Dame fumble at the Saints 19, Eckley connected with another UA commitment, Paul Elvira, on a 19-yard score. On the Saints next offensive play, Stewart picked off first-time starting quarterback Nick Duckworth.
“We can be explosive and I say that humbly,” said Marcos de Niza coach Roy Lopez. “The boys have a big game next week (at No. 2 Scottsdale Chaparral), so we’ll enjoy this for two minutes.”
While the Padres offense took a little time to click, their defense, which returned only one starter from last season, came out of the gates and finished strong.
Coleman Griffith had an interception return for a touchdown in the second half.
“It’s beautiful to have a shutout,” said Padres’ senior defensive back Priest Willis, the team’s only starter back from last season and considered the East Valley’s top senior recruit. “Our coaches kept calling aggressive plays. We wanted the shutout.”
Eckley connected with Elvira on a 68-yard touchdown strike early in the third quarter for the other score,
“It feels good to do what the coaches wanted us to execute,” added Eckley.
“We’re going to keep them grounded,” added Lopez, on his club’s impressive opening Friday victory. “Notre Dame is a good football team and they’ll improve on the year, just like they did last year, but this is a really good win for our boys. They’ve worked really hard to improve (from last season).”
Score by quarters
1 2 3 4 -- F
Marcos de Niza 0 28 7 7 -- 42
Notre Dame Prep 0 0 0 0 -- 0
First downs: Marcos: 12. Notre Dame: 8.
Rushes-Yards: Marcos: 29-58. Notre Dame: 28-49.
Passing yards: Marcos: 278. Notre Dame: 45.
Comp-Att-Int: Marcos: 16-25-1. Notre Dame: 5-18-2.
Fumbles-lost: Marcos: 1-0. Notre Dame: 2-1.
Penalties-yards: Marcos: 10-81. Notre Dame: 8-46.
M – Lee 3 run (Jones kick)
M – Lee 13 pass from Eckley (Jones kick)
M – Elvira 19 pass from Eckley (Jones kick)
M – Stewart 34 interception return (Jones kick)
M – Elvira 68 pass from Eckley (Jones kick)
M – Griffith 20 interception return (Jones kick)