"We work on kicking a game-winning field goal with a no-huddle and
less than 10 seconds left every day in practice," Coach Jerry Howell
said. "That what Luis gets paid the big bucks for."
Avalos' kick capped a 12-play, 92-yard drive with under five minutes
remaining as the Mustangs (3-0), ranked No. 2 in CIF Southern Section
Division IX, calmly marched down the field, despite training the winless
"These kids work hard and we work on keeping our cool," Howell said.
"It was a very nice win for us tonight."
Leading the offense for Mesa was sophomore running back Keola Asuega.
Making his first varsity start, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound fullback took
over the running duties for injured Nick Cabico in the second half and
finished with 158 yards on 29 carries and scored three touchdowns.
"He's a guy that can really be a major factor to our offense," Howell
Cabico, who suffered a hamstring strain in last week's 52-0 win over
Bolsa Grande, suffered a slight concussion in the first half against the
Lions. He did not play in the second half, but is probable for next
week's game against Ocean View.
For the Lions (0-3), they used an assortment of plays and formations
to throw off the Mustangs' defensive plan and it worked.
Starting quarterback Akilah Lacey turned into the Lions' leading
receiver, catching three balls for 118 yards and a touchdown, while
reserve quarterback Fidel Gonzales threw for 194 yards and one touchdown
on 6-of-9 passing.
"Westminster did some things that we weren't expecting," Howell said.
"They did a great job of mixing it up on us and they kept us guessing."
A play that nearly worked for the Lions at the half, paid off at the
end of the third quarter. Trailing, 14-7, Lacey moved to receiver and
Gonzales found him for a 78-yard touchdown, tying the score at, 14-14.
The Lions tried the same play just before halftime and it worked for
42 yards, but substitute cornerback Louis Day made a touchdown-saving
tackle on the Mustangs' 2-yard-line as the gun sounded.
Playing without both starting cornerbacks, Cabico and senior Josh
Strickland due to injuries, Westminster found a way to finally reach the
end zone for the first time this season. Once they got there, they went
back again and again, putting the Mustangs behind, 22-21, with 4:58
From there, Hulliger methodically led the Mesa troops into enemy
territory, thanks to the strong running of Asuega and senior fullback
Daniel Hunter, whose barreling 22-yard run put the Mustangs into Lions
Perhaps the biggest run of Asuega's night came on a 16-yard plow up
the middle on third-down, putting the Mustangs inside the Lions'
Hunter made the most of his three carries, rushing for 47 yards, while
Hulliger threw for 79 yards on 8-of-14 passing. His top receiver was
Lenny Lukela, who caught six passes for 67 yards.
"We've got our hands full next week with Ocean View," Powell said of
his Friday night's matchup at Newport Harbor. "It's going to be a another
rough physical battle, just like tonight."