ALAMEDA — The first two times Rodriguez High lost the ball Friday night at Don Grant Field, the Encinal Jets made the visitors pay in a 42-13 defeat.
The Jets’ first two plays from scrimmage resulted in touchdowns and gave the home team a quick 14-0 lead before four minutes had ticked off the game clock.
Later in the first, the game grew tense after the two squads traded exciting kick returns.
The first came as the Jets’ Jordan Parker tore down his own sideline for a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown to give his team a 21-0 edge.
The Mustangs answered back imediately.
On the ensuing kickoff, Rodriguez’s Arron Short zigzagged across the grass and down the opposite sideline for a 95-yard touchdown, the third-longest kickoff return for a TD in Mustangs history.
That closed the score to 21-6, but it was as close as Rodriguez would come. The Mustangs threatened on a late first-quarter drive deep in Jets territory, taking possession inside the red zone after Jacob Azevedo blocked a punt from Encinal’s own end zone.
But the lucrative opportunity went for naught as quarterback Jacob Hurt tossed an interception into the arms of the Jets’ Kealii Pedro on fourth-and-goal from the 15. That was one of two interceptions Hurt threw, but he completed 21-of-40 attempts to go with 155 yards passing.
The Mustangs largely abandoned the running game, netting just 11 yards on the ground.
Two of those 11 yards came in the third quarter, when Short was responsible for the Mustangs’ other touchdown. He capped an eight-play, 74-yard drive in the third quarter with a two-yard burst through the line to pay dirt to close the scoring.
After the game, Rodriguez coach Berwyn Hutcherson was frustrated at what he said was his team’s inability to execute.
“Not to take anything away from Encinal, but we got beat by a lesser team,” Hutcherson said. “They beat us in every aspect.”
Encinal quarterback Taivale Tautalatasi was a thorn in the Mustangs’ side, completing 4-of-7 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns along with running for a 17-yard score.
Along with his punt return for a score, Parker added a 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Carlos McClure added a 26-yard rushing touchdown and Kezeri Morrow hauled in a 60-yard pass from Tautalatasi.
Hutcherson called his players “warriors,” but said Rodriguez needs work, especially on the line.
“We need more fine tuning,” he said. “You’ve got to protect the quarterback.”
The loss dropped Rodriguez to 0-2 on the season.
Edited, 9/13/13, 11:46 p.m.: Corrects a previous version, which misstated the name of Encinal’s home field.