In the first half Marcos de Niza’s Josh Eckley struck through the air; in the second half he struck on the ground. And it was just enough for Eckley and his Padres receivers to squeak out a high-octane win over host Horizon, 56-53, which saw Eckley log 310 total yards.
“I’m just grateful to have the guys that I do," he said. "I’m blessed to have all my receivers and I can count on them and they can count on me.”
In the end, Eckley hit eight different receivers on his way to posting 185 yards and three touchdowns in the air. But when Horizon pulled to within four with 5:03 left in the third quarter, it was his rushing game that supplied the offense. On a third and two, Eckley bounced past two Horizon defenders to manufacture a 31-yard scramble for a touchdown.
Then, when the Huskies fumbled the kickoff and the Padres recovered, two plays later he dashed in a 17-yard TD to round out Marcos’ scoring.
“He’s such a threat. And he’s smart. At the end there, we got a little crazy, but he’s really grown up and he’s leading the team,” said Marcos’ coach Roy Lopez.
Following Eckley’s scoring, Horizon posted two unanswered touchdowns both from the Huskies’ signal-caller Dalton Sneed. He notched his first on a 26-yard rumble with 10:06 left in the game. Then, after the Horizon line forced Eckley into two errant passes and a punt, Sneed lobbed a pass to Jason McLaurin for a 13-yard touchdown with 4:25 left to put the Huskies within 3.
“[That] is where your character is showing. Either you are going to lay down or you are going to keep fighting,” said new coach Kris Heavner. “These kids, the Horizon community, the school, we don’t lay down and we keep fighting.”
But the Marcos offense was able to muster two clutch first downs in the last two minutes behind the legs of Eckley and Jacob Lagunas, who finished with 95 yards, which allowed them to run out the clock for the win.
The Padres also benefited from two special teams touchdowns by Marcus Maldonado, one of 65 yards and another from 74 yards out.
“We just came a little short. Obviously in our special teams, giving up two kickoffs,” said Heavner. “I mean, it’s a different game if just played sound on special teams. And that’s obviously disappointing, but we’re going to bounce back and clean up our mistakes.”
Marcos de Niza 56, Horizon 53
First Downs: H 17, MDN 16
Rushing: H 31-281, MDN 48-249
Passing (comp.-att.-TD-INT): H 18-28-238-4-1, MDN 12-22-185-3-0
Fumbles-lost: H 3-1, MDN 6-2
Penalties-yards: H 7-90, MDN 6-48
Marcos de Niza 13 15 28 0 -- 56
Horizon 14 7 17 15 -- 53
H: Marciniak 29 pass from Sneed (McAtamney kick)
MDN: Lagunas 21 pass from Eckley (Ketterer kick)
MDN: Hernandez 2 run (run failed)
H: Salinas 65 pass from Sneed (McAtamney kick)
MDN: Nguyen 17 pass from Eckley (Loney pass from Eckley)
H: Salinas 4 pass from Sneed (McAtamney kick)
MDN: Maldanado 85 kick return (Ketterer kick)
M: Lagunas 20 pass from Eckley (Ketterer kick)
MDN: Quinn 68 run (McAtamney kick)
H: McAtamney 39 FG
MDN: Maldanado 74 kick return (Ketterer kick)
H: Sneed 12 run (McAtamney kick)
MDN: Eckley 31 run (Ketterer kick)
MDN: Eckley 17 run (Ketterer kick)
H: Sneed 26 run (McAtamney kick)
H: McLaurin 13 pass from Sneed (McLaurin pass)