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Murtha gains 302

Sophomore tailback runs wild to keep Estancia perfect in Orange Coast League after victory over Saddleback on Friday night.

October 29, 2010|By Mike Sciacca, michael.sciacca@latimes.com

Friday's Orange Coast League football game between Saddleback and Estancia figured to showcase the rushing talents of two of the league's best running backs.

It certainly did, and the Roadrunners' Luis Soto and Eagles' Robert Murtha didn't disappoint, either, although it was Murtha who stole the spotlight.

The sophomore running back burst his way for a career-high 302 yards on 37 carries, which was more than enough to carry the Eagles to a 35-6 homecoming victory over the Roadrunners at Jim Scott Stadium.

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Murtha's total was just 22 yards shy of tying the school's single-game rushing record.

He was on the sideline when he heard the game announcer reveal his tally for a hard night's work.

"I couldn't believe it," Murtha said, a smile dominating his face despite his number being dialed up on the majority of every Estancia play from scrimmage. "If the coaches call on me to carry the ball 40 times, I'll do it. Whatever it takes to help our team win. That's what counts."

And winning is something the Eagles have been doing in recent weeks. Their third straight victory squared their overall record at 4-4. More importantly, it put them at 3-0 in league play and alone in first place. But head coach Mike Bargas said his team's performance was anything but perfect.

"I thought we played a sloppy first half," he said. "We missed some opportunities early, and I give Saddleback credit because they had a good game plan. They took away the inside on us. But I can't say enough about Robert (Murtha). He ran the ball really well."

It was Murtha who scored the game's points.

Saddleback was on the move on the game's first possession. The Roadrunners went from their own 24 to the Estancia 47 where receiver Juan Zuno coughed up the ball, which the Eagles' Matt Carlyle pounced on. On his first carry, Murtha established himself by ripping off a 20-yard gain. He went on to cap a short, four-play, 60-yard drive with a 23-yard touchdown run. Jonathan Diego's kick made it 7-0.

The Eagles defense forced three other turnovers in the half, two of which led to scores.

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