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PREP EXTRA / SATURDAY FOOTBALL PULLOUT : Esperanza Sweats Its 26-16 Victory Over Feisty Edison


COSTA MESA — On the surface, Esperanza's 26-16 Sunset League victory over third-ranked Edison appeared to be a routine one for the Aztecs, ranked fourth in Orange County.

But the game was not secure until the Chargers failed to connect on a pass for a two-point conversion, which would have cut the deficit to eight, with 40 seconds remaining, and Esperanza recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt.

If not for a few kind bounces and a 190-yard, two-touchdown rushing performance from running back Dahrin Footman, the Aztecs (4-2, 1-0 in league) could have been staring at a .500 record.

Edison's defense made Esperanza sweat, and the Chargers trailed, 10-3, at halftime. The Charger defense intercepted two passes and forced four fumbles in the game. But Edison recovered none of those fumbles and couldn't come up with enough big plays.

Although Edison quarterback Patrick Markovsky completed 23 of 44 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown and wide receiver Andy Linnen caught 13 passes for 134 yards, the Chargers couldn't put enough points on the scoreboard.

"You need a little luck to win these games," Edison Coach Dave White said. "We didn't capitalize on offense and left our defense out there too long. The defense played a great first half, except for that one play."

That one play came late in the second quarter after the teams had exchanged field goals in the first 22 minutes of the game.

With 1 minute 35 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Esperanza pulled out a trick play and it paid off, big time. Wide receiver Brian Forth took a handoff on a reverse from Footman, then pulled up and passed to a wide-open Ryan Wilkins for a 55-yard touchdown play.

Jason Florence's conversion gave Esperanza a 10-3 halftime lead.

Then Footman and the Esperanza defense took center stage.

Footman had runs of 38 and 39 yards in the second half, scored touchdowns on runs of one and 27 yards, and finished with 26 carries.

"You can't give a guy like Footman that many chances," White said. "He'll eventually burn you."

After shutting down Edison's running attack, Esperanza dared the Chargers to pass. The result was two sacks and three interceptions while the Chargers tried to stay in the game with a one-dimensional offense.

Esperanza limited Edison to six yards rushing in 19 carries. Bradley Lisotto, who averaged 145 yards rushing in the Chargers' first five games, finished with 13 yards in 13 carries. He did score on a one-yard touchdown run and caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Markovsky.

"Our defense made the big plays tonight," Esperanza Coach Gary Meek said.

And Edison couldn't.

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