Sports

Raider defense shuts down Coyotes, offense capitalizes in home victory

By Sergio Gomez

La Habra Journal

The Sonora football team may be opening a lot of eyes after its 30-14 league-opening victory over Buena Park, Friday night at La Habra High.

The Raiders’ defense shut out Buena Park throughout the second half and held running back Devon Boston to 74 yards rushing, his lowest total of the season.

The Raiders (3-3, 1-0) came out running from the start, controlling the game with their effective running attack behind the great play of fullback Justin Mun and running back Matthew Villasenor.

The running game for the Raiders put them in position to strike early, which allowed quarterback Kyle Mahlstede to find an open Jacob Kent for a seven-yard touchdown pass. Sonora took the 6-0 lead after the blocked PAT.

The Coyotes (4-2, 0-1) responded in the second quarter when Boston went in for an easy five-yard touchdown run that put Buena Park on top, 7-6, after making the point-after attempt.

With time running down in the first half, the Raiders struck again when fullback Justin Mun went up the middle for a one-yard touchdown. After a failed two-point conversion, Sonora took the 12-7 lead with 21 seconds to go in the half.

Not to be outdone, the Coyotes capitalized on some big Sonora penalties with a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Travis Hood to wide receiver Jaylinn Hawkins to put them up 14-12 with nine seconds to spare.

“Once again we made a couple mistakes in the first half as we have done all year long,” said Paul Chiotti, Sonora head coach.

Things were much different as Sonora took over and dominated in the second half.

Behind the legs of Mun and Villasenor, the Raiders drove down the field consistently, setting up a huge 24-yard touchdown pass from Mahlstede to Nate Miranda. After another failed two-point conversion, Sonora held a 18-14 lead.

“We always control the second half, it’s been the same story all season long,” Chiotti said. “These boys just keep fighting hard every game and that says a lot about their hearts.”

It was more of the same for Sonora in the fourth quarter with the offense clicking on all cylinders.

After a huge pass from Mahlstede to wide receiver Alex Martinez for 33-yards and big gains by Mun, Villasenor plunged in from one yard out to extend Sonora’s lead to 24-14.

Mun rushed 21 times for 97 yards and Villasenor had 25 carries for 94 yards. Both scored one touchdown.

“Justin (Mun) had a great game for us, filling in at fullback today,” Chiotti said. “He just kept attacking the defense with the help of a great performance from our offensive line.”

Mahlstede finished the game with with two touchdowns and 79 passing yards on 7-of-8 passing.

With time winding down in the game, Kent read Hood’s eyes perfectly and intercepted his pass from the Buena Park’s own one-yard line to take it to the house for the decisive 30-14 lead and victory.

Hood completed seven-of-14 passes for 82 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The Raiders look to keep all cylinders clicking as they hit the road to take on the Fullerton High Indians next Friday night. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.