Tough Loss for the Spartans, Etiwanda extends win streak
Etiwanda extends win streak, defeats Damien
LA VERNE >>Critics of Etiwanda’s perfect nonleague record hadn’t played the type of competition the Eagles would see in the Baseline League.
Friday night, the Eagles opened league play and are still undefeated.
Etiwanda (6-0) used a bruising defense and a dynamic passing game to spoil Damien’s homecoming with a 17-3 victory Friday night.
“People say we hadn’t played anybody,” Etiwanda quarterback Zach Congalton said. “But Damien’s pretty good. I think if we can beat Damien, we can play with anybody.”
Congalton completed 14 of 20 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns, and seniors Norian Espadron (125 yards) and Jordan Williams (138) each going for over 100 yards receiving.
“We have three really good receivers, and no one’s going to be able to cover all three,” said Congalton, adding Jaden Landrum to the standout receiving corps.
With the score 3-3 in the second quarter, the game changed on the dynamic play of Espadron, who turned a screen pass into a 72-yard touchdown and a 10-3 lead in the second quarter.
The Eagles had a chance to extend the lead before halftime. They drove into Damien territory with no timeouts, but time ran out at the Spartan 26.
“I wish we had one timeout, and then it was fourth down, so we couldn’t spike the ball,” Baiz said. “But we knew we got the ball to start the second half.”
After scoring three points on an opening drive that took more than eight minutes off the clock Damien’s offense sputtered the rest of the night.
“That’s a really good team and we did a good job in holding them to three points,” Etiwanda coach Nick Baiz said.
The teams traded interceptions on the first two possessions of the second half, when after Etiwanda turned the ball over on downs at the Spartan 33, Damien coach Matt Bechtel reached into his bag of tricks with a double pass that was well covered and intercepted. It was one of three second-half turnovers by the Spartans.
“They’ve always got something,” Baiz said. “We were working on defending that all week.”
That’s when the Eagles finally got some breathing room as Congalton connected with Williams on a 34-yard touchdown on the very next play.
The game was marred by penalties: Damien had 105 yards in penalties and Eitwanda had 121.
“I don’t know what it was,” Baiz said. “They seemed to bring out the worst in us. We need to be smarter out there.”
Damien quarterback Dylan Gutierrez completed 12 of 21 passes for 164 yards but the Spartan offense didn’t penetrate the Etiwanda 40 after the opening drive until the final minute of the game.
“We had a bye week last week, and I think it took us a little bit to get used to the game speed,” Baiz said of allowing a field goal on the opening drive.