So far, so good for the Auburn Mountainview football team in NPSL 4A Olympic Division competition.
The Lions defeated Thomas Jefferson, which remains winless in league play, 33-15, on Thursday at Auburn Memorial Stadium.
With their third straight win, Auburn Mountainview improved to 3-0 in league play after dropping its first two nonleague games to start the season.
“It feels pretty good, especially after the way we started,” Auburn Mountainview defensive coordinator Kent Rodseth said. “We were 0-2 playing some really good football teams. I think that level of physicality got us ready for our league play. This is something new for us moving up to 4A, so those first two games got us ready.”
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The Lions were forced to punt on their first three offensive possessions of Thursday’s game, but they looked poised to take the lead on their fourth possession. Sophomore kicker Carlos Huizar lined up for a 32-yard field-goal attempt, but it was blocked by Thomas Jefferson sophomore Willie Raquedan. Senior Sonny Fuavai scooped up the loose ball and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown to give the Raiders a 7-0 lead.
There weren’t many other highlights for the Raiders in the first half. The Auburn Mountainview defense held Thomas Jefferson to 33 yards of total offense in the first 24 minutes — all 33 yards came via the running game.
“The kids played hard defense,” Rodseth said. “I think they are pretty sold on the ability to play that way. On defense, we’ve been getting better and better and better.”
Fuavai’s blocked field-goal return for a touchdown seemed to ignite the Auburn Mountainview offense. The Lions needed only seven plays to go 70 yards on their next possession to tie the game at 7-7. The drive was capped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass from junior Talan Alfrey to senior Michael Kramer.
The Lions got the ball back just plays later when Kramer recovered a fumble by Thomas Jefferson senior quarterback Mason Delacruz deep in Raiders’ territory. With a short field, the Lions needed three plays to find the end zone again. This time, Alfrey found senior Ben Mose for a 9-yard touchdown pass to give the Lions a 14-7 lead.
The score remained the same until halftime.
Mose accounted for the Lions’ next score as well, blocking a Thomas Jefferson punt through the end zone early in the third quarter for a safety. Mose added a sack later in the game.
“He’s just super-athletic,” Rodseth said of Mose. “We really saw him getting better as the year went along last year. He’s hard for any offensive line to block.”
The Lions led 19-7 later in the quarter, when their second special teams mistake of the game led to another Thomas Jefferson touchdown. The Raiders recovered a muffed punt deep in Auburn Mountainview territory and capitalized on an 11-yard Delacruz touchdown run moments later. After a two-point conversion, the Raiders were back within one score at 19-15.
It was as close as the Raiders would get. Auburn Mountainview senior running back Bitner Wilson, who rushed for 107 yards on 21 carries, scored on touchdown runs of 5 yards and 40 yards in the fourth quarter.
“The first half we were struggling and we came in to the locker room at halftime and talked about it and we fixed it,” Wilson said. “That’s just how Lions play, we come back and finish.”
Thomas Jefferson 0 7 8 0 - 15
Auburn Mountainview 0 14 5 14 - 33
TJ – Sonny Fuavai 78 blocked FG return (Chase Fazio kick)
AM – Michael Kramer 16 pass from Talan Alfrey (Carlos Huizar kick)
AM – Ben Mose 9 pass from Alfrey (Huizar kick)
AM – Safety (punt blocked through end zone by Ben Mose)
AM – Huizar 25 FG
TJ – Mason Delacruz 11 run (Jordan Peeks pass from Delacruz)
AM – Bitner Wilson 5 run (Huizar kick)
AM – Bitner Wilson 40 run (Huizar kick)
Rushing – TJ: J. Buckley 17-57; M. Delacruz 11-26; C. Wight 6-25. AM: B. Wilson 21-107; T. Alfrey 13-54.
Passing – TJ: M. Delacruz 5-10-0-47. AM: T. Alfrey 7-15-0-88.
Receiving – TJ: D. Bang 2-29; S. Fuavai 2-18. AM: M. Kramer 3-48; B. Mose 2-18.
Records – Thomas Jefferson 0-3 league, 1-4 overall. Auburn Mountainview 3-0, 3-2.