The Eastlake Titans (9-2) hold off Rancho Bernardo en route to a 21-16 victory remaining undefeated at home. The last time the Titans won a playoff game was back in 2013 marking the first playoff victory for the players and second-year Head Coach Dean Tropp.
The game was much closer than it should have been as Eastlake led at the half 21-9. The Titan’s opening drive went eighty yards in eight plays as Daniel Amon hit an open Jalyn Jackson in stride on a 40-yard touchdown pass.
The Broncos would respond scoring on their first two drives. Jack Gaylord pounded one in from one yard out and Matt Araiza nailed one from 36 yards to give Rancho Bernardo their first and only lead of the game.
After falling behind 9-7 midway through the second quarter, Parker Merrifield made his impact on the game rushing eight times in the 10-play series that traveled eighty yards for the second time in the game to regain the lead 14-9.
The following possession would have it’s biggest moment of the game. Bronco Quarterback Noah Morris threw the ball off the fingertips of receiver Jonny Tanner and Rayshawn Parks-Price had been practicing his tip drills returning the pick six 57 yards to extend Eastlake’s lead 21-9.
The second half was sloppy on both sides as injuries were piling up. The Titans miscues on special teams, penalties, and offensive turnovers allowed the Broncos to hang around.
Rancho Bernardo would finally capitalize on an Eastlake slip-up late in the fourth quarter. Noah Morris found an open Angelo Ducksworth who ran a drag route across the formation and found the pylon for an eight-yard touchdown to cut the deficit 21-16 with 3:36 remaining.
The Broncos would have one more chance starting the last drive on the Titan’s 40-yard line, but couldn’t convert on a fourth and 10. Eastlake’s bend-don’t-break defense prevailed and allowed them to advance to the semi-finals.
The Broncos are a young team and look like a solid contender next year with a lot of their skill guys returning including Noah Morris who has two years left. The Broncos will be surrounding Morris with talent. Angelo Duckworth, Jack Gaylord, Jonny Tanner, and Tahj Martin all had impact plays and will be back for their senior year.
Eastlake will look to make it 6-0 at home on the season as they host No.3 Carlsbad in the semi-finals.
The No.2 Eastlake Titans (8-2) host No. 7 Rancho Bernardo (6-5) in the second round of Division I playoffs.
After being beaten at home by the Titans, 21-3, in Week 1, the Broncos would lose the following three games to begin the season 0-4 and since have gone 6-1. Seventh-year Head Coach Tristan McCoy has a new ace up his sleeve this time around, and that’s Quarterback Noah Morris. Morris was thrown to the wolves in his first varsity start against the best team in the county, Mission Hills (10-0). Since then, the sophomore quarterback has won five straight throwing for 900 yards, nine touchdowns and only one interception during that stretch. In his first playoff game last week against Valhalla, Morris completed 16-of-27 passes for 207 yards.
The Broncos offense spreads the ball around as five wide receivers had at least two catches averaging at least 10 yards per grab in last week’s playoff win. Jonny Tanner was Morris’ favorite target against Valhalla with five receptions for 52 yards. The player who has benefited most from the emergence of Morris is wide receiver Malcolm Ross-Turner who has nine receiving touchdowns on the season. His breakout game was three weeks ago when he exploded for 221 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns on five receptions. The 6’2’’ senior has also averaged 4 receptions in the last four games.
When you break down how the Broncos fare offensively with the rest of the divisions top 12 teams, they have the lowest scoring output. Advantage, Titans as they allow the third fewest points in the division. They’re quick and titanic up front, a bad combination for any offense to face, displayed through Donyal Thompson’s 6-foot, 230 pound frame and 11 sacks. Eastlake’s front seven is anchored by South Bay’s top Linebacker Josh Mccurty who has 145 tackles and six sacks on the season.
Eastlake will be licking their chops knowing a sophomore quarterback is coming to town where they haven’t lost a game all season. The secondary can be stifling at points because of their athleticism. Jalyn Jackson, 3, Micah Pietila-Wiggs, 4, Bernard Coe, 2, and AJ Hernandez, 2, are no exception with a combined 10 interceptions. The matchup to watch will be Ross-Turner against Jackson. What Jackson gets in speed, he gives up in size as Ross-Turner has about four inches on the senior.
As tough as it is to match up with Eastlake defensively, it’s even more difficult to lineup against the offense who is averaging 38 points in the last eight games played. The two-back system of Parker Merrifield and Roman Coe along with Micah Pietila Wiggs has helped the offense average more than 200 rushing yards this season. If the Broncos can limit the big plays, they have a chance to stay within striking range but the big play ability of the before mentioned along with Jalyn Jackson and running Quarterback Ryzhon Mccoy add to the depth of players who can make an impact play at any point in the game.
Will the Broncos avenge their Week 1 loss or will the Titans remain undefeated at home?? You can only find out on KUSI’s Prep Pigskin Report, Friday night at 10:30 pm.