East County Sports

Krug has Patriots’ back against Central




By Jim Lindgren

Special to EastCountySports.com


EL CAJON – It had been awhile – 16 years, in fact – since Christian began a football season with three losses in its first five games. But with an upgraded schedule and a move up to Division II, the Patriots faced that very real possibility in taking on Central Union on Friday night at Granite Hills.

Gabe Krug made sure a 2-3 start didn’t happen.

A junior transfer from St. Augustine, Krug rushed 17 times for 107 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Patriots to a 31-28 win over Central.

“The big storyline is the kid can run,” Christian coach Matt Oliver said. “We knew he could throw the ball really well. We saw that in summer passing leagues and practices. What we’re finding is he can really run the ball.”

Krug scored on an 18-yard run with 0:52 left in the first half to give Christian a 24-14 lead.

His 48-yard keeper TD scamper in the third quarter put the Patriots up 31-21.

“We did what we were supposed to do,” Krug said. “We executed really well.

“The line was great. I had a lot of open holes. We had a lot of fun out there.”

Last week in a 46-6 win over Monte Vista, Krug reeled off a 65-yard touchdown run and also passed for 156 yards.

“He’s super athletic,” Oliver said. “We’ve been very impressed with his ability to run. We think, as he grows into our offensive system, he’s going to be really good.”

Krug, who was sacked three times for minus-15 yards, had help in the run game, too. Christian Salacup rushed 10 times for 75 yards and a 1-yard TD, and Nate Stine added 62 yards on 15 carries as Christian piled up 266 rushing yards.

Christian (3-2) opened the game with a 92-yard kickoff return touchdown by Jack St. Fleur.

Christian’s first play from scrimmage, however, was not so good. As Krug attempted a short screen play, Central’s Angel Nava-Esparza stepped in front of it, picked it off at the 6-yard line and scored easily for a 7-7 tie.

Christian fared much better on its next possession, driving 72 yards in 12 plays and going up 14-7 on a 1-yard run by Salacup.

The Patriots upped their lead to 17-7 on a 24-yard field goal by freshman Hunter Provence.

Central answered with a nine-play, 52-yard drive and scored on a 1-yard dive by Nava-Esparza with 2:25 to play before intermission.

Four plays later, Krug scored on an 18-yard keeper up the middle to give Christian a 24-7 advantage at 0:52.

But Central came right back and scored on a 69-yard pass from Deniro Osuna to Michael Sullivan with 0:03 to play.

Krug’s brilliant 48-yard TD in the third quarter made it 31-21 with 4:53 on the clock, and it long appeared to be

the only score of the second half until Central rallied late and scored with 0:13 to play to make it 31-28.

The Spartans then recovered an onside kick and had one last-ditch attempt at pulling off a miracle. Osuna’s next pass, however, was dropped as the clock ran out.

The drive of the game came late in the game and didn’t even result in a score. Christian was leading Central by 10 points when the Patriots took possession at their own 9-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

Behind the running and passing of Krug (3-of-7 for 42 yards), Christian gained 80 yards in 15 plays, but the drive was halted with a sack and an incomplete pass. That drive ate up about 8 minutes.

Give credit to the Patriots’ offensive line of Eric Markowitz, Isaiah Owens, Andrew Carlock, Nathan Wells and Cole Bryant.

On defense, Van Nevling had a sack and a forced fumble, a big fourth-down stop for a loss in the third quarter and several tackles. Elio Meyers also had a sack, and Gabe Stine posted another big stop on a fourth-down play.

Central (3-2) lost for the second week in a row after going 25-3 in its previous 28 games, including a 22-16 loss to Morse in the Division III championship game last fall. Two weeks ago, the Spartans beat Del Valle, 34-21, in El Paso, Texas, so Friday’s 90-minute bus ride from El Centro must have seemed like a joy ride.

Christian was 10-2 last year after losing to Morse, 34-6, in the semifinals. The Patriots’ only losing season in this millennium was a 3-8-1 campaign in 2003 when they began 0-3-1.

“We didn’t play exceptionally well, but we played well in spurts,” Oliver said after Friday’s game. “We need to be a more disciplined football team. We can’t make mistakes like we made in key situations.”

Central’s Osuna was 14-of-25 passing for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Sullivan caught six passes for 107 yards. Osuna has now thrown for 6,083 career yards and 61 TDs.

“They’re a very good team,” Central coach David Pena said. “They make you cover your schemes. They’re a very well-coached team. They do a lot of things that give your defense fits.”

Christian began the year with a 28-20 loss to Sante Fe Christian. The Patriots beat El Sobrante De Anza on the road in Week 2, 22-16, but then lost to a very good team from Soldotna, Alaska, 42-7, before bouncing back against Monte Vista.

Christian has a bye next week before opening City Eastern League play on Oct. 5 against University City.


Central Union 7 14 0 7 – 28

Christian    14 10 7 0 – 31

Chr – Jack St. Fleur 92 kickoff return (Hunter Provence kick)

CU – Angel Nava-Esparza 9 interception return (Sebastian Coronel kick)

Chr – Christian Salacup 1 run (Hunter Provence kick)

Chr – FG Hunter Provence 24

CU – Angel Nava-Esparza 1 run (Sebastian Coronel kick)

Chr – Gabe Krug 18 run (Hunter Provence kick)

CU – Michael Sullivan 69 pass from Deniro Osuna (Sebastian Coronel kick)

Chr – Gabe Krug 48 run (Hunter Provence kick)

CU – Skyler Cook 10 pass from Deniro Osuna (Sebastian Coronel kick)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *