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Key Injuries Don't Slow Esperanza : Football: Unbeaten Aztecs defeat Los Alamitos, 28-7, despite playing without three offensive linemen.


CERRITOS — Even with three offensive linemen missing because of injuries Friday night, Esperanza's potent offense was more than Los Alamitos could handle.

Esperanza passed for 150 yards and added 199 yards rushing in cruising to a 28-7 Empire League victory in front of 2,800 fans at Gahr High.

It was the 21st consecutive victory for Esperanza (7-0, 2-0 in league) over the past two seasons and easily the Aztecs' best game of the season.

Quarterback Josh Buscaglio, considered the big question mark in Esperanza's offense, had his best game of the season. Buscaglio completed 8 of 13 passes for 150 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Corbett in the first quarter for the first score of the game.

Esperanza's traditionally strong running attack didn't miss a beat despite the three missing starters. Fullback Garrick Emry led all rushers with 116 yards in 19 carries, and scored twice.

Tailbacks Marcus Tayui and Jeff Gaeta complimented Emry's strong inside running with quick sweeps that produced key yardage. Tayui had 42 yards in seven carries and Gaeta added 52 yards in nine carries.

All of the yardage came despite the loss of Esperanza center Aaron Brooks (sore back), guard Matt Izzi (strained knee ligaments) and tackle Greg Olquin (injured shoulder).

"This was the best game we've played this year, the type of effort you would expect from us against a good team like Los Alamitos," Esperanza Coach Gary Meek said. "When you consider we were missing three starters up front, this a big win for us.

"I thought Josh played exceptionally well at quarterback. That was the best quarterbacking he's done in a long, long time."

Los Alamitos (5-2, 0-2) was coming off a humbling 7-0 loss to El Dorado in which the Griffins were shut out for the first time in 50 games dating back to 1986.

Quarterback Tim Carey, sporadic against El Dorado, passed for 197 yards against Esperanza. Running back Marchant Wright added 70 yards rushing but three key turnovers ended potential scoring drives.

Receiver George Sagen limped through most of the game with a groin injury, but still caught six passes for 77 yards and intercepted a pass.

"I thought we ran the ball well, blocked well, and did just about everything we wanted to do in the first half," said Los Alamitos Coach John Barnes. "The kickoff is what hurt us, otherwise, it's a close game at halftime."

Esperanza's Ryan Corbett returned a kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown following Los Alamitos' only touchdown to give the Aztecs a 20-7 lead. The teams played evenly in the second half, but a 13-point deficit was too much for Los Alamitos to overcome.

"If we would have played as well last week as we did tonight, we would have never lost to El Dorado," Barnes said. "We played very well against a very good football team."

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