Patriots top Kellis 9-6 in defensive battle

By: 
DARRELL JACKSON, Staff Writer

Photo by Darrell Jackson
Kellis quarterback Cade Peterson waits for the snap in the first quarter against Independence Sept. 21 at Independence High School.

Photo by Darrell Jackson
The Independence defense comes up with a big stop of Kellis quarterback Cade Peterson in the third quarter.

In a battle of two local teams headed in opposite directions, the Independence Patriots offense, which had averaged 51 points scored the previous two games, struggled, but the defense came to the rescue in defeating the Kellis Cougars 9-6 Sept. 21 at Independence High School.

“We focused on defense all week, and this is a huge thing because our offense has been putting points on the board the past two weeks against teams we probably shouldn’t have been scoring so many points against,” Independence head coach Santiago Maldonado said. “Our defensive coaches came up with a great game plan and the kids came up huge when we needed it.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Kellis (0-5) drove down the field to the Patriots 16-yard line and faced a fourth-and-6 when the Cougars decided to go for it. Kellis quarterback Cade Peterson dropped back and was pressured by the Patriots Salvador Flores-angulo and Victor Frenes, forcing Peterson to throw an incomplete pass.

On Independence’s (3-2) first play after the turnover, running back Isaac Mack-alston took a sweeping hand-off, rolled to the left and bounced off three Kellis defenders. Mack-alston spun around the defenders and raced around the outside and down the sideline 84 yards for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 6-0 lead (extra points was missed) with 4:44 left in the first half.

“(Mack-alston) is a fighter and never goes down on the first hit unless it is from behind,” Maldonado said. “When he gets to the outside, he just takes off and raced away from the defenders to get into the end zone.”

On Kellis’ next drive, the Cougars got the ball at midfield and the Patriots’ defense came through again. As the Cougars marched down the field, getting to the Patriots 13-yard line with just over a minute left in the first half, Chase Weaver took a hand-off and rumbled up the middle, but lost the ball and the Patriots Wallace Yopp recovered the ball, ending the Cougars’ drive.

“We made too many mistakes on offense that kept us from getting into a rhythm,” Kellis head coach Steven Hogg said. “I expected a little more from our offense tonight, but the mistakes caught up to us.”

After the fumble, the Patriots offense took over with 1:20 left in the first half, and quickly started moving the ball. On first down, Robbie Colunga raced around the left side for a 12-yard gain, followed by a 20-yard run by Ryan Kelly to put the Patriots at the Kellis 43-yard line.

Kelly then hit Javan Runnels on a 20-yard pass, followed by a 9-yard completion to Mack-alston, and a 19-yard completion to Anthony Cano got Independence to the Kellis 33-yard line.

After a pass interference by Kellis got the Patriots to the 7-yard line, Flores-angulo hit a 24-yard field goal to give Independence a 9-0 lead at halftime.

“I actually expected we would do better on offense and not as well on defense, truth be told,” Hogg said. “(Independence) wasn’t doing anything we didn’t expect, but they gave us some trouble early and got up early.”

Early in the third quarter, the Kellis offense finally got moving on its second possession of the second half. Starting at their own 43-yard line, the Cougars marched down the field in nine plays to get to the Patriots 3-yard line. On a third-and-goal, Peterson hit a short crossing pass to Ricky Luna for the touchdown, but the extra point was missed and the Cougars trailed 9-6 with 4:43 left in the third quarter.

“We moved the ball at times, especially in the third when we finally got on the board,” Hogg said. “We just couldn’t keep it up and you have to give their defense credit, when they needed it they stopped us.”

Four times in the game, Kellis’ offense got inside the Independence 30-yard line and didn’t score as the Patriots’ defense held tough and stopped the Cougars offense, including stopping the Cougars on fourth down six times.

“We focused on defense this week in practice and the kids executed the game plan perfectly tonight,” Maldonado said. “We focused on stopping Peterson because we said that is the kid who is going to beat us because he can sling the ball. I am just so proud of the way our defense played tonight.”

Peterson completed 10 of 26 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown, but the Patriots’ defense held the Cougars’ offense to 188 total yards as the Cougars were two-for-eight on fourth down conversions in the game.

“When the defense needed a big play, they came through,” Maldonado said. “This was a huge win for the team and especially the defense because we had a few injuries, but the kids stepped up.”

Mack-alston rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown in the win with Colunga adding 35 yards and Samuel Espindola rushing for 34 in the win. The Patriots outgained the Cougars 225-188 in the game.

Defensively, Joseph Riojas had two sacks while Flores-angulo and Raymond Shelton each had one. Shelton also knocked down three passes and Riojas knocked down two to lead the defense.

“Our defense was just all over the field tonight and they really came through when we needed it,” Maldonado said. “We told the kids to keep working hard and I think we are about where we wanted to be heading into section play.”

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