Eagles triumph despite sloppy first halfFree Access

Pleasanton’s Jessejohn Guel (25) breaks free for a touchdown against San Antonio Lanier. J GARCIA | COURTESY PHOTO

The Pleasanton Eagles notched their second win of the season in a 49-33 result over the San Antonio Lanier Voks in their home opener despite bits and pieces of the first half that head coach Stephen Liska was unhappy with Friday night. 

Pleasanton only led 14-12 at the half after Lanier’s Savian Perez drove Pleasanton senior quarterback Nathan Acevedo back 12 yards into his own endzone for a safety and a 21-yard field goal by Gilberto Ramirez.

“The first half was sloppy here and there in the first quarter,” Liska said. “But yeah, we took what they gave us. In the second half we came out throwing the ball, which was positive.”

Pleasanton was held to just 294 yards of total offense in the win with the large majority — 260 yards — coming through the air. Acevedo finished the day 13-of-18 passing with 260 yards and four touchdowns to his credit.

Acevedo and Dalton Hobbs connected six times for 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Their first connection, a 79-yard strike down the middle of the field, came nearly 40 seconds after Lanier opened a 7-0 lead. Acevedo thinks that’s what opened the passing game for the Eagles.

“It opened up our pass game a lot because we noticed a lot of broken coverage,” Acevedo said. “Our first half was a little rough, as you could see. But we picked it up and made some adjustments in the second half to make things work.”

Pleasanton’s Dalton Hobbs leaps to make a catch against San Antonio Lanier. J GARCIA | COURTESY PHOTO

It wasn’t just Acevedo and Hobbs linking up for big plays, though. Junior slot receiver Alonzo Duran caught four passes for 90 yards and a touchdown, a 33-yard screen play in the first quarter, and sophomore running back Joel Arevalo caught a pair of passes out of the backfield for 47 yards and a touchdown as well.

“It’s always good to see all phases of the game working together,” Liska said. “I felt good about getting the passing game going. You know, Hobbs is a weapon out there and that’s great. But we had some other guys out make some plays, too, out there receiving. Alonzo Duran had some big catches and a touchdown. Overall, I’m really proud of the effort by all of the kids.”

The Eagles only managed 34 rushing yards in the win compared to their 300-yard night in week 1. But junior Jessejohn Guel showcased Pleasanton’s depth at running back, carrying the ball five times for 37 yards and a touchdown in late action for the Eagles. That touchdown was a 52-yard run in the fourth quarter on his very first touch of the game.

“We’re deep at the running back position,” Liska said. “We’ve got some good cats back there that are elusive in our scheme that we’re running. [Jessejohn’s] a little cat, so he’s kind of hidden back there behind the big boys. But he’s got some elusiveness. When he cut it back and put the gas on, that was exciting.”

Acevedo gave credit to the Voks, saying they were much more improved compared to last year’s shutout win for the Eagles.

“They had a good team this year,” Acevedo said. “They’re a very good team. I expect them to go very far this year. They’re very talented.”

Pleasanton’s Cass Campbell sacks San Antonio Lanier’s Rocco Medina. J GARCIA | COURTESY PHOTO

The Eagles defense was once again led by senior linebacker Cass Campbell, who picked up 11 total tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss. That helped Pleasanton hold the Voks to 230 yards of total offense and just 57 yards rushing, the main facet of their offensive scheme.

“We have a great coaching staff who’s really aggressive.” the senior said. “They’re just training us to get back there any way we can. So, we’re just doing what we were coached to do.”

However, Lanier would try to make a game of it in the fourth quarter. The Voks, trailing 49-19 with 10:25 left in the game would eventually cut the deficit to 49-33. Liska hopes the team can clean up those mistakes heading into week 3.

“It’s always great to get the ‘W’. We’ve got some things to correct,” Liska said. “The kids know what we work in drill work has to come through on Friday night. Hopefully, they’ll take a hard look at what we’re preaching in drill work and the little things. We’ll get them fixed.”

Pleasanton (2-0) will welcome Pearsall (0-1) to town for homecoming on Sept. 13.

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