MOJAVE — The Mojave football team was nearly perfect in the second quarter Friday night against Lone Pine.
The Mustangs scored 37 points, while the Mojave defense forced a turnover and held the Golden Eagles scoreless.
The dominating second quarter was enough to propel Mojave to a 56-12 victory over Lone Pine in a CIF-Central Section 8-man semifinal game at Mojave High.
Mojave (8-0) will play in its sixth consecutive championship game, in its first season playing in the Central Section. The Mustangs have played in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 8-Man title game the last five seasons, winning three championships, including last season.
“We made very few mistakes tonight,” Mojave coach Cash Achziger said. “I’m very pleased. We’ve been playing really good defense.”
The Mustangs will face the Riverdale Christian in the semifinal. Riverdale Christian defeated Orcutt Academy 24-19 on Friday.
“We knew today would be a really big game,” said Mojave senior Rae’Kwon Alvez, a four-year varsity player. “We had to come out here and show who we really are, so we could go to the ’ship. We’re not only doing it for ourself, but we’re really doing it for our coach. Our coach deserves this really bad. He does so much for this program. He just wants to win. He just wants us to be happy. That’s really what we come out here for. We did this for our coach.”
Mojave beat Lone Pine 51-8 in the final game of the regular season last week for the Hi-Lo League title.
Mojave scored on the opening possession of the game, an 8-play, 56-yard drive that was capped with a 6-yard touchdown run by junior Dante Turner.
The Mustangs scored again on their third possession, as senior Ivan Valadez caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Alvez.
“I think we did an outstanding job,” said Valadez, a four-year varsity player. “We came out hitting like we said we were. We started a little slow in the beginning, but towards the second quarter we just got used to it and came out strong. We kicked it up a notch. We all came together and discussed in the huddle, when we were about to run a play. We just said we have to come together and just start pressing. We’ve got to play Mustang football, so we just came out hitting.”
Lone Pine scored on its third possession, on a 6-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Kristopher Nelson to sophomore AC Ray, after a 48-yard run by senior John Shepherd to set up the score, cutting Mojave’s lead to 12-6.
Mojave picked up the intensity on the final play of the first quarter, as senior Trevion Brown intercepted a Lone Pine pass, giving Mojave the ball to start the second quarter.
Alvez ran on the first play and scored on a 71-yard run.
“I’m very pleased,” Achziger said. “We struggled a little offensively, because they brought the house. We knew they would. They brought it last week when we played them and we had success. They did a good job of defending that this week, so we had to do a few different things to keep the ball moving.”
The Mustangs scored on the first play of their next drive, on a 29-yard run by Turner. Valadez made a one-handed catch on a pass from Alvez on the 2-point conversion.
Lone Pine fumbled on a punt attempt on its next possession, giving Mojave the ball on the Lone Pine 13-yard line.
The Mustangs capitalized with a 13-yard touchdown catch by sophomore Doniel Webster from Alvez, who had to scramble to elude several tackles on the play.
Alvez then had an interception on defense on the Golden Eagles’ second play on the following drive.
Mojave capitalized on the turnover with a 13-yard touchdown reception by Valadez from Brown, who added a 14-yard touchdown run on the next Mojave drive, giving the Mustangs a 49-6 lead at halftime.
“I had to do a couple of different things, to show them something they hadn’t seen yet and get the ball in open space,” Achziger said. “If I can get my quarterback out in free space, where he can take off and run, that’s good for us. We’re either going to throw it or run it. We were trying to run the ball and force it and we weren’t doing much. We were doing OK, but we were just getting it done. That’s why I decided to spread it a little bit.”
Mojave did have one setback in the second quarter, as Turner suffered an injury to his right leg, on an attempt to catch a pass. He was carted off the field and did not return, finishing with 66 yards on five carries and two touchdowns.
Mojave finished with 309 total yards in offense in the first half, while holding Lone Pine to 73 yards.
Alvez finished with 145 yards rushing on 15 carries, while Brown had 71 yards on 13 carries. The two combined to complete 4-of-10 passes for 66 yards and three touchdowns.
Brown threw a 32-yard touchdown to Alvez early in the fourth quarter, go give Mojave a 56-6 lead.
“Coach kept our heads in the game,” Alvez said. “He told us ‘Don’t come out here and think this is going to be an easy game.’ Lone Pine knew this was going to be like a championship game. Lone Pine came out and fought the whole first quarter, the whole game actually. Lone Pine gave us a fight. Now we have to prepare for next week.”
Lone Pine scored on the final play of the game, on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to Ray.
Nelson completed 7-of-20 passes for 88 yards, was intercepted twice and sacked twice, both by Alvez.
Valadez had 19 tackles.
“It feels amazing. It’s my fourth year,” Valadez said. “All four years. We’ve been practicing and weight lifting since February. We’ve been dedicated to football.
“I feel like our defense, we played amazing. Only allowing them 12 points. They were a high-scoring offense. They threw the ball up, but I’m glad we overcame that.”
The Central Section 8-man playoffs has just four teams, because there are only 13 8-man teams in the Central Section.