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Joyner is Jumbo-Sized Hero in Esperanza's 7-3 Victory


MISSION VIEJO — Jumbo was the name of the play.

But it was a 5-foot-9 player named Tom Joyner of Esperanza who pulled it off.

With his team running out of time and steam in a hard-hitting game, Joyner entered on the offensive side of the ball for the first time Friday night.

With 2 minutes 15 seconds left in the game, Joyner burst up the middle for a three-yard touchdown run to give fifth-ranked Esperanza a 7-3 nonleague victory over third-ranked Capistrano Valley on the Cougars' field.

"They wanted me to run it, and I wanted to run it," said a wide-eyed Joyner. "I'm usually a fullback, but we had a guy injured and I was playing defensive end all night."

Esperanza's final series began with 5:15 left, after Aztec linebacker Jason Novotnya sacked Capistrano Valley quarterback Sam Gaines for a six-yard loss and the Cougars were forced to punt.

Esperanza (2-1) took over on its own 27-yard-line. Aztec quarterback Chris Stretch completed passes of 18 yards to Mike Clark and 15 and nine yards to Ryan Wilkins. Shorter gains, added to a 14-yard carry by Tom Tape, set the table for what Esperanza calls the "Jumbo" play.

On second-and-one at the Capistrano Valley 18, Joyner gained nine yards and moved the ball to the nine. On first-and-goal it was Joyner again--up the middle--this time for a six-yard gain. Finally, Joyner made the scoring romp, giving the Aztecs thrills and the Cougars a letdown of grand proportions.

Best feeling ever for Joyner?

"Probably, it felt pretty good," he said.

The feeling in the Cougars' stomachs this morning will be one of nausea.

"We're going to get sick watching films (Saturday)," Capistrano Valley Coach Eric Patton said. "We played terrible. Don't get me wrong. Esperanza is a good football team, but you have to play on both sides to play winning football. You can't drop the ball like that."

Specifically, like the three times the Cougars did, and that was only in the fourth quarter. Gaines fumbled three times in the period, and the Aztecs recovered two of them.

Any hope of a Cougar comeback was thwarted on the fumble with 33 seconds left in the game. Jason Pacourak recovered and the Aztecs ran out the clock.

The Cougars held a 3-0 lead for most of the game on the strength of Brett Thompson's 21-yard field goal in the second quarter.

Capistrano Valley's Bron Witten had his fourth interception of the season with 8:01 left in the fourth.

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