LANCASTER — Phase one down. Mission accomplished.
The Lancaster Baptist football team entered the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 8-man playoffs with one common goal in mind. That is to repeat of what it did in 2017 after defeating Laguna Blanca to win its first-ever CIF championship.
After Chris Huygens returned the opening kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown, you could tell that visiting Lighthouse Christian of Santa Monica was in for a long night.
The Eagles scored early and often and stuck to their bread-and-butter rushing attack as they cruised to an easy 68-27 victory over the Saints, Friday night at Lancaster Baptist High School.
“Our offense clicked well. You know things are going well when you don’t have to punt the ball. We ran the ball very well and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Lancaster Baptist head coach John Alvarez said. “The line did an excellent job. The boys never let up tonight. We followed the game plan.”
The game plan was simple. Run the ball down the throats of Lighthouse Christian.
The Eagles’ (7-2) vaunted rushing attack combined for 345 yards and eight touchdowns. Huygens rushed for 162 yards on 16 carries and scored three touchdowns. Joseph Concepcion complemented Huygens finishing with 123 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns.
“The game went well tonight for us. I thought the line did a great job. I mean what more can you ask for from the line?” said Huygens. “This was a good win for us and a good effort by the team. We have to come out even stronger next week.”
With the victory, Lancaster Baptist moves on to the quarterfinals where it will face either California School for the Deaf or St. Michael’s Prep at a site to be determined.
After the Eagles led 7-0 following Huygens’ kickoff return, they increased the lead even more on their second possession. Lancaster Baptist got into Saints’ (2-7) territory and Concepcion scored his first touchdown of the night as he broke several would-be tacklers on his way to a 27-yard touchdown rumble which put his team up 14-0.
Eagles’ quarterback Lucas De Paula Rosa got in on the party later in the first quarter following a three-play, 43-yard drive which was capped by a 10-yard touchdown run by De Paula Rosa, giving Lancaster Baptist a 21-7 lead. De Paula Rosa nearly hit the century mark in rushing finishing with 72 yards on only nine carries. He rushed for three scores and tossed another, a 20-yard pass to Lincoln Cox in the third quarter.
About the only chink in Lancaster Baptist’s armor were the numerous penalties that resulted in three touchdowns called back.
“It was a good victory, but it was very sloppy. We have a few spots we need to improve in. But I’m happy to get this first round playoff victory,” said De Paula Rosa, who was 2-of-2 passing for 46 yards. “We’ll clean up our little mistakes and we will get better. We got this.”
Lighthouse Christian slung the ball 39 times, which De Paula Rosa said is good for his team because it doesn’t see many pass attempts throughout the game.
“We had some missed coverages, but that was a good look for us,” he said.
The Eagles capped a 27-point quarter following Concepcion’s second touchdown, this time from three yards out as he danced into the end zone untouched for a 27-7 lead.
Lancaster Baptist used a more methodical drive in the second quarter after stopping Lighthouse Christian on its own 11-yard line on fourth down. Following the stop the Eagles used a 10-play, 69-yard drive which chewed up more than four minutes on the clock and resulted in an 8-yard touchdown scamper by Huygens to help Lancaster Baptist build a 35-7 lead.
Alvarez said he was much happier with his defense in the second half than in the first. The Eagles allowed a total of 294 yards of offense to the Saints but only 93 of those came in the second half.
“We gave up a few more points than we should have. I was a little uncomfortable with our defense in the first half, but they worked much harder in the second half,” he said. “We played much tighter and you have to make adjustments especially in the playoffs. We didn’t give up as many big plays (in the second half) and we made it much tougher for them to score.”
De Paula Rosa rushed for a touchdown and threw another in the third quarter and Huygens rushed for two more as Lancaster Baptist exploded for 26 points in the third quarter and led 61-27 entering the fourth.