FAIRFIELD — There weren’t a lot of points scored in David Fishleigh’s return to Rodriguez High, just enough of them.
Michael Arrendo threw for two touchdowns and the Fairfield defense made them stand up as the Falcons escaped with a 12-10 victory at Coach Ed Hopkins Memorial Stadium, Friday night.
“It’s the first time Fairfield’s had a winning record in a long time,” said Fishleigh, who coached the Mustangs to three winning seasons from 2006 to 2008. “It was an absolute team effort.”
Not surprisingly, first-year Rodriguez coach Berwyn Hutcherson wasn’t happy with the outcome – or with how his team played.
“Their guys played hard, our guys played hard,” he said. “It came down to who made the most mistakes. We made the most.”
There we plenty of mistakes to go around. Fairfield (2-1) fumbled five times losing two, Rodriguez (0-3) threw interceptions on its first and last possessions, and an inadvertent whistle wiped out a 13-yard gain by the Falcons in the fourth quarter.
The teams opened the game exchanging turnovers as Fairfield’s Dammoni Quinney intercepted a Jacob Hurt pass and returned it 30 yards to the Rodriguez 40.
Two plays later, the Mustangs’ D’Andre Scott recovered an Eric Posey fumble at the Rodriguez 29.
The Mustangs then drove to the Fairfield 25 before Eddy Nuno booted a school-record 42-yard field goal, topping 40-yarders by himself last year and by Jacob Daniel in 2007.
A bad snap on a Fairfield punt then gave the Mustangs the ball at the Falcons’ 34 and the home team drove to the 17 before turning it over on downs.
Fairfield responded by driving 79 yards in 10 plays, the final 35 coming on an Arredondo screen pass to Eric Clark, who weaved his way down the left sideline for a touchdown with 9 minutes, 7 seconds left in the second quarter.
The snap on the conversion attempt never made it to the holder, keeping the score 6-3.
Rodriguez then put together its best drive of the night, marching 80 yards in nine plays with Ubonna Obioma swept right the final 20 yards on third-and-8, the only third down of the possession.
The quarter ended with controversy as Arredondo spiked the ball on first-and-goal from the Mustangs’ 7 with 14.9 seconds left, the ball was spotted at the 8 and Clark was tackled at the 1 on a screen pass as time expired.
Fairfield came close again to start the second half, taking the kickoff and driving to the Rodriguez 5 before Caleb Stearne was stopped a yard short of a first down.
The Falcons took the lead for good when they drove 33 yards in nine plays, one of them a 24-yard screen pass to Clark on third-and-20.
On the scoring play, Arredondo avoided the rush by scrambling to his right and found Tyler Ross open in the corner of the end zone with 10:01 to go in the game.
Again the conversion try went awry, keeping the score 12-10.
The Mustangs got the ball three more times in the game, turning it over on downs at midfield with 8:28 remaining and at their own 44 with 4:06 to go before Ross intercepted Hurt on a desperation bomb on the game’s final play.
It was one of the few deep Rodriguez passes during the game, even with the clock winding down.
“I was waiting for it the whole game,” Fishleigh said.
Arredondo finished the game 10 of 14 for 168 yards, while Hurt was 11 of 19 for 60 yards.
Scott, whose dad O’Ryan Scott was Fairfield’s leading rusher in 1995, led the Mustangs with 100 yards on 15 carries, while Clark had 46 yards on 16 attempts.
The Falcons travel to Stockton to play Stagg next week, while the Mustangs entertain Oakland.
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.