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Battle for the Bell: Eagles grab Bell

High School Football

Estancia holds off rival Costa Mesa, wins Battle for the Bell and Orange Coast League opener.

October 05, 2012|By David Carrillo Pe├▒aloza
  • Estancia High's Alex Haeger (7) and Robert Murtha (34) rejoice with the rest of the team and cheerleaders after beating Costa Mesa 15-13 in the annual Battle for the Bell football game at Jim Scott Stadium on Friday.
Estancia High's Alex Haeger (7) and Robert Murtha… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

COSTA MESA — It seems everyone on the Estancia High team is limping. The coach, the tailback and the fullback went into the Battle for the Bell with ankle injuries.

Mike Bargas brought out his cane, just to move up and down the sideline. The other week, someone told him he looked more like pimp than a coach.

The decision Bargas made 3 1/2 minutes into the third quarter against Costa Mesa on Friday was a risky one by the man in charge.

Ben Beck had just returned the kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. With the game tied, and the Eagles going for an extra-point kick to go ahead, Costa Mesa jumped offside.

"I had a chance to think about it," said Bargas, believing two points were worth more than one. "We [went for] it."

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The Eagles sure did and they converted the two-point conversion run. Those two points proved to be the difference in Estancia defeating the Mustangs, 15-13, in the 46th edition of the rivalry football game.

The player who ran in the two-point play was Robert Murtha. That was the only time he found the end zone in the Orange Coast League opener.

On a night Murtha was on the verge of breaking the Newport-Mesa record for career touchdowns, the senior wasn't taking down another mark held by a Costa Mesa running back. The back that took down the Newport-Mesa career rushing record last week was shut down and stuck with 48 career touchdowns, one behind the record.

The Mustangs (2-4, 0-1 in league) held Murtha to a season-low 52 yards on 16 carries. Murtha hurt his ankle twice in the fourth quarter. The final time on fourth down, after his six-yard run came up a yard short of the first-down marker with 2:27 left to play.

The Eagles (4-2, 1-0), ranked No. 8 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division, wouldn't have to hand the ball off to Murtha again. The defending league champions were on the way to their 12th straight league victory dating back to 2009.

Costa Mesa, down just two, fell apart after it took over on downs on its 37. After a five-yard run on first down by Oronde Crenshaw, who Estancia struggled containing all night as he finished with 162 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, they couldn't move the ball on the ground.

The problem for the Mustangs was that they couldn't get Crenshaw or running back Justin Smith, who rushed 30 times for 143 yards, the ball. The quarterback fumbled the snap on back-to-back plays, leaving the offense in a fourth-and-seven situation with 68 seconds remaining.

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