Live Oak quarterback Taylor Turnipseed and wide receiver Dominic Maciel have an obvious connection. And for the second week in a row, the duo couldn’t seem to get enough of each other.
Both have been hooking up through the air since Pop Warner for the Morgan Hill Raiders, and both were in sync Friday night, combining for two touchdowns to lead the Acorns (2-0) past Christopher High School 20-7 at Garcia-Elder Sports Complex in Gilroy.
“We've been playing football for a long time together – since mighty mites even,” Turnipseed said. “He just goes up and gets it for me.”
Getting up and getting it Maciel did for two first half scores. Turnipseed finished with three touchdowns on 12-of-18 passing and 183 yards. The tandem has dialed up five scoring plays in the first two weeks of the season. They had three in the season opener against Gilroy last Friday. Turnipseed has six total touchdown tosses.
Like they did last week against Sobrato, the Cougars (0-2) were the first to score, capitalizing on one of Turnipseed's rare throwing mistakes. An interception on fourth-and-21 that Tyson Hill took 85-yards to the end zone gave CHS a 7-0 lead after the made extra point with 1:21 left in the first quarter.
The Acorns were able to answer on their following position, as Turnipseed marched the Acorns down the field 73-yards - a drive that ended on a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Duran to knot the score up a 7-7 with 6:59 in the second quarter.
It was at that point the Cougars dug themselves into an insurmountable hole with four turnovers - three coming on special teams.
On the ensuing kickoff, Hill muffed the reception, giving the Acorns the ball on their own 15-yard line. Two plays later, a 12-yard pass from Turnipseed to Maciel made it 14-7 Acorns in just a 44-second possession.
“Although our defense did a great a great job, their (Live Oak) special teams was their best offensive play.” Christopher High head coach Tim Pierleoni said.
No special teams mishap proved bigger for the Cougars than with the Acorns up 14-7. After a big defensive stop with 2:30 left in the half, the Cougars return man fumbled a punt as the Acorns took possession on Christopher's 44-yard line.
“Our defense just kept going after them,” Live Oak head coach Mike Gemo said. “Fortunately, they missed some plays that helped us to get out of here with a win.”
Three plays later, Turnipseed was able to find a wide open Maciel, who danced into the end zone to give the Acorns the decisive 20-7 lead after a missed extra point with 1:04 left in the first half.
That was all the Acorns needed, as the Cougars, whose defense was able to sack Turnipseed four times, couldn’t muster much.
Earning his second start of the season, junior Sterling Montgomery struggled in finding a rhythm and completed just seven passes in 24 attempts for 68 yards, leading a Cougars offense that was only able to manage 179 altogether.
“He did not play like he's been coached,” Pierleoni said.
NOTES: Acorns starting tailback Trevor Bearden, who has been battling an injury, left the game in the third quarter, but senior fullback Mark Butterworth stepped up in a huge way, carrying load in Bearden's absence. Butterworth had 16 carries for 60 yards, 40 of which came on the final possession of the game.
“We knew Trevor had been dealing with an injury, but we had a good mix of running plays tonight and stuck with it,” Gemo said.
Getting the call for his first start this season at tailback, freshman Zach Almash proved to be the lone bright spot for the Cougars' offense, rushing for 114 yards on 17 carries.
Pierleoni was optimistic of his young squad, but the Cougars will have to regroup as they visit Pacific Grove High next weekend at 7:30 p.m.
The Acorns bring an undefeated record back home as they host the visiting Sobrato Bulldogs in the annual El Toro Bowl slated for a at 7 p.m. kickoff.
Junior varsity: Christopher High’s Bryant Huynn had two punt returns and one interception for touchdowns in a Cougars 55-0 win over Live Oak.
Raul Tovar had one rushing, two passing and one fumbled punt snap for touchdowns. T.J. Cox had 25-yard rushing touchdown. The defense came up big with six sacks by Anthony Bonino, Austin Jackson, Jacob Liberatore, Dylan Erickson, Jared Huddelston and Tom Madurga. The defense also had two fumble recoveries, by Eric Cabrera and Madruga.