SANTA ANNA — Three weeks of futility came to an end as the May Tigers topped the Santa Anna Mountaineers, 63-18, Thursday night for their first District 14-A Division I victory of the season.
The Tigers (5-3, 1-0) won their district opener and, in the process, snapped a three-game losing streak by taking the lead on the first play from scrimmage with tight end Gage Keckler scampering 42 yards for a touchdown on an end around.
“It was a pretty long three weeks, but it feels good to get a win that’s for sure,” May head coach Craig Steele said. “We were ready to break that losing streak we were on, and more importantly get a win in district.”
Following an interception by Rory Bustamante, Keckler struck again in the first after leaping up to snatch a contested pass from Bustamante that he took another 22 yards for a touchdown. May kept its momentum the next drive on a 43-yard carry for a touchdown by Isidro Salinas, who wore a cast on his right arm after breaking it earlier this season.
“This is only my second game back, I came out to do work and that is exactly what I did,” said Keckler. “… [Isidro Salinas] is back with a cast and he is completely demolishing kids. He knows exactly what he’s doing.”
Following an interception by freshman Blake Harrell, who also took a few snaps at quarterback Thursday night, the Tigers extended their lead to 27-0 after junior quarterback Seth Johnson found center Jaden Baker on a short route that Baker took to the 1-yard line on a 36-yard gain, then punched it in on first-and-goal. Bustamante stretched the lead to 33-0 after he found Chris Flenniken for an 11-yard touchdown.
“It’s great that we’re 1-0 in district, but we made way too many mistakes,” Bustamante said. “We can’t let that happen next game … Gorman is tough, but we’re better. If we get our stuff together we can come out with a win and start off 2-0.”
The Mountaineers’ (2-6, 0-1) first touchdown, with Alex Crowder finding Silas Lara, only seemed to prolong the inevitable. The following play, May running back Daniel Salinas bucked loose for a 45-yard touchdown. On the first play of the ensuing Santa Anna drive, Salinas gave the ball back to the Tigers on an interception, who proceeded to take their lead to 47-6, with Bustamante rushing for a 33-yard touchdown, teetering his team on mercy ruling the Mountaineers at halftime.
A pair of passing touchdowns from Crowder to Jayton Perry and Lara kept Santa Anna in the game for a while, but it wouldn’t last much longer. Bustamante found Keckler again for a touchdown, this time from 45 yards out as time expired. During Santa Anna’s first offensive drive of the second half, after a pair of lost yardage plays put the Mountaineers on their own 1-yard line, Keckler put the Tigers back in the win column after pressuring Crowder out of bounds for game-ending safety.
“This is what it’s all about. You get enjoyment when you watch kids overcome adversity, get stuff fixed and get a big win,” Steele said. “… We’re as healthy as we’ve been in about a month and that helps. We executed well on offense and on defense, we had a few lapses that we’re going to get fixed this week.”