Trojans top Hall in comeback fashion

Posted 9/29/21

MENDOTA – Unless it’s taken back for a touchdown, kickoff returns aren’t often significant game-changers.

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Trojans top Hall in comeback fashion


MENDOTA – Unless it’s taken back for a touchdown, kickoff returns aren’t often significant game-changers. But Mendota was in desperate need of a spark when it was staring up at a two-touchdown deficit to Hall, and a kickoff return was the igniter the Trojans were looking for.

Mendota was able to survive that Red Devil lead by scoring three straight second-half touchdowns and then it held on for a 43-34 victory over Hall in a Three Rivers Conference East Division collision on Sept. 25 at the MHS field.

The Trojans upped their record to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in league play, while Hall dropped to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the conference.

After giving up a pair of touchdowns to surrender a two-point lead midway through the third quarter, the Trojans were looking for something or someone to light a flame. That someone turned out to be Emilio Perez on Hall’s ensuing kickoff after it scored to take a two-touchdown lead with 5:03 left in the third quarter.

Perez was back to receive the kick, and after initially heading straight up the middle of the field, he bounced to the right side and broke into the clear down the sideline. He was eventually caught from behind by a Red Devil defender, but not before he advanced the ball 58 yards down to the Hall 23-yard line. Five plays later – all runs by MHS quarterback Ted Landgraf – the Trojans were back in it after a 1-yard touchdown run by Landgraf at the 3:35 mark of the third frame. Perez kicked the extra point to make it 28-21.

Mendota’s defense needed to step it up after that, and it certainly did when Hall stalled on offense and was forced to punt the ball back to the Trojans. Mendota started its next possession on its own 48 with 1:56 left in the quarter, and with just three seconds left in the period, Uzi Angulo powered his way into the end zone from the 2-yard line. Perez added the extra-point kick and the game was tied at 28-all.

Mendota’s defense rose to the occasion again, when on Hall’s ensuing drive, a mix-up in the backfield resulted in a fumble and Anthony Childs smothered the ball for the Trojans at the Red Devil 32-yard line. Four plays later, Damien Magallanes was in the end zone from 3 yards out, and Perez’s kick gave the Trojans a 35-28 lead with 10:50 left in the game. It was Mendota’s third touchdown in a span of four minutes, 48 seconds.

But the Red Devils weren’t done yet. Backed up at its own 5-yard line to start its next offensive series, Hall was able to get out of the hole and move the ball into Trojan territory, where from the 49, Mac Resetich busted past the line of scrimmage and into daylight for a 49-yard TD romp to draw his team to within a point. Hall elected to go for two to try to take the lead, but the run was stuffed by Mendota and the Trojans clung to a 35-34 lead with eight minutes left.

The Trojans were able to seal the win on their next possession when they took six and a half minutes off the clock and journeyed 76 yards, capped off by a 1-yard TD run by Landgraf with 1:23 showing on the scoreboard. Landgraf also ran in the two-point try to make it a two-possession lead. Landgraf did most of the damage with his legs during the critical drive, including picking up a huge first down on a third-and-15 from the Mendota 39 with a 37-yard run to the Hall 24.

The Trojans got the ball back when Perez intercepted a Hall pass and they were able to run out the clock.

Mendota dominated the statistics with 436 total yards to 257 for Hall. The Trojans ran 76 offensive plays from scrimmage compared to 43 for Hall, and they held the ball for 31:04 of the 48 minutes.

Landgraf led the rushing attack with 164 yards on 19 carries. Angulo picked up 86 yards in 18 attempts and Magallanes had 83 yards in 14 totes. Hall got 155 yards rushing from Resetich on 14 carries.

Mendota started the game the way it has many times in the Keegan Hill era – with an onside kick. The Trojans were able to recover the kick at the Hall 49, and seven plays later, Magallanes sprinted into the end zone from 9 yards out, followed by a Perez PAT kick, to make it 7-0 with less than three minutes gone in the game.

The Red Devils wasted little time in getting on the board when they needed just two plays to cover 62 yards, the second play a 61-yard TD run by Resetich. The extra-point kick was no good.

Hall’s Dominic Guerrini intercepted a Landgraf pass on the Trojans’ next possession and he returned it 3 yards to the Mendota 22. Two minutes later, Guerrini had the honors of scoring on a 1-yard plunge and Hall grabbed a 12-7 lead. The two-point run attempt failed.

Mendota’s next drive began at its own 40 and traveled to the Hall 9-yard line, but the Trojans couldn’t advance any further and ended up missing a 26-yard field goal try when it hit the right upright.

Hall blocked a Mendota punt and had excellent field position at the Trojan 29, but the defense tightened and Mendota took over on downs at the 10. From there, the Trojans launched what turned out to be a 19-play, 90-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown run by Landgraf with 38 seconds left before intermission. Perez booted the PAT kick and Mendota took a 14-12 lead to the locker room. During the drive, a gutsy fourth-and-four play from their own 28 resulted in a 35-yard pass from Landgraf to Magallanes down to the Hall 37.

Two interceptions by Hall in the third quarter resulted in touchdowns that enabled it to erase a two-point deficit and take a two-touchdown lead. Denzel Sobin swiped a Landgraf pass and returned it 9 yards to the Trojan 17. Resetich capped off the short drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Caleb Savitch ran in the two-point try.

On Mendota’s next series, Resetich picked off a Landgraf pass at the 2-yard line and ran it back 51 yards to the Trojan 47. Gianni Guerrini stretched the Red Devil lead with a 2-yard TD run followed by a Savitch two-point conversion at the 5:03 mark of the third quarter. Then came Hall’s kickoff to Perez that triggered the Mendota comeback.