East County Sports

Sultans not only good, crazy clutch

Santana's Dylan Anderson scores the go-ahead touchdown in the final minutes on Friday night. / Ken Todd

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL

SANTANA 28, SWEETWATER 21

 

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NATIONAL CITY – It’s one thing to be good. But it’s a huge benefit when you are also clutch.

The Santana Sultans have been both this season.

The Sultans put up strong numbers again but also came up big in the fourth quarter to rally past host Sweetwater, 28-21, to improve to 4-0 on Friday night.

Santana led 14-7 entering the fourth quarter only to see the Red Devils storm back with their swirling running game and take a one-score lead.

However, Leger, who finished 23-of-27 for 220 yards passing on the night, would lead a pair of scoring drives in the game’s final minutes.

Brayden Brashears shook off an earlier red zone fumble to score on a 33-yard sprint but a failed conversion left Santana still down by one with under three minutes to play.

After Santana’s onside kick attempt failed, the Sultans appeared to be out of options. But the passiveness of the Red Devils’ usually well-oiled run game may have led to a crucial mistake.

“We (coaches) couldn’t decide how to get out of this, so we talked and I said, ‘why don’t we just let them score?'” Santana head coach Tim Estes said. “Well, they fumbled and we got it back.”

As the Sweeties were trying to burn some clock just shy of midfield, possibly wise to the Sultans’ plan, a botched fumble resulted in a Santana recovery as Jorden Logan wrestled the ball away from the quarterback while on the ground.

Santana quarterback Nick Leger passes on Friday night. / Ken Todd

Leger then connected with red-hot Dylan Anderson for a 38-yard touchdown to give Santana the lead.

“Our secret is just to never give up and keep playing as hard as you can,” Anderson said. “As long as we stick to that we will come out on top. It does take some time for our offense to get the ball rolling but in the end, we push through and get the win.”

Sweetwater had success running the football against the Sultans, as its potent ground game looked on track.

Xavier Cruz had a 73-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Leger completed a pass to Anderson, who finished the night with eight receptions good for 90 yards, then a few plays later he passed to Ethan Wright for a 45-yard touchdown.

“Shoutout to Ethan for an amazing game,” Anderson said. “He was a big part of our offense and a big reason on why we won. He stepped up when he needed to and helped us get the win.”

Wright led the Sultans with 10 receptions, which resulted in 83 yards. Wright also rushed for 71 yards on 11 carries, including a 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to give Santana a 14-7 lead.

“It was an all-around crazy game,” Wright said. “There were crazy calls, crazy accidents, crazy plays. I would’ve paid to see that game myself, but we came into that game with a mindset of not letting anyone through us. We knew what we had to do in the second half and we went out there and got the job done. That’s exactly what’s expected from us.”

Sweetwater (0-3) kept churning and Carlos Hopper gave Sweetwater a 15-14 lead with a touchdown and subsequent conversion run in the fourth quarter.

Hopper capped another running drive with a second score for the Red Devils’ one-point lead.

Breshears, who is suffering from a shoulder injury that has reduced his playing time, finished with 88 yards on the ground.

“This has been very expected of us from our coaches and families,” Breshears said. “We work until the end of the whistle and plan on working our hardest to the end of the season.”

The Sultans figure to keep the momentum going next Friday night in the Grossmont Valley League opener against visiting Valhalla (1-3).

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