East County Sports

Eagles’ 20th straight earns Open final

Maxwell Turner runs away from Carlsbad on Thursday night. / Nicole Noel




Open Division – Semifinals

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS senior writer

CARLSBAD — Taking a clue from their green-clad rivals, the Granite Hills Eagles took the high road to collect one of the most important victories in school history.

Instead of allowing an opponent to beat them, the Eagles simply went for it, forcing the other side to stop them.

Three weeks earlier, Helix went for a two-point conversion in overtime, but the Eagles earned their triumph by stopping them on a sweep to the right side. On Thursday (Nov. 9) with the tables turned, Granite Hills forced host Carlsbad to do the same — but the Eagles endured.

In a battle of unbeaten ballclubs at 10-0 each, the final play of the Open Division semifinals saw diminutive junior running back Pablo Jackson (listed at 5-foot-7) rushed for a two-point conversion on a similar jet sweep right in overtime to nip second-seeded Carlsbad, 46-45, advancing to the CIF San Diego Section championship contest.

The third-seeded Eagles will face Friday’s winner between No. 4 Helix (9-1) and top-seeded and undefeated Lincoln (10-0).

For Granite Hills, next week’s game means more than simply winning a section championship. The club moved into position to snap the Grossmont Conference record for consecutive victories. They tied the mark of 20 set by Helix (2000-01) when legendary greats and future NFL standouts like Reggie Bush and Alex Smith shared the spotlight.

However, this season’s edition of the Eagles features their own set of stars for head coach Kellan Cobbs, seeking to capture section titles for the first time in school history after garnering the CIF State 2-AA crown in 2022.

The offensive slugfest saw Granite Hills force the overtime on a 2-yard TD run by Max Turner, another Eagles junior running back for his third score on the night.

Turner also book-ended the first half by opening the scoring on a 21-yard run, then slid into the end zone for a go-ahead, 4 yard TD just just before halftime to give Granite Hills a 28-21 lead at the break.

Meanwhile, Jackson finished with 14 points with two TDs and his victory-clinching conversion.

In overtime, after Carlsbad compolete a TD pass, the Eagles also faced a do-or-die, fourth down situation. However, feshman quarterback Zach Benitez found senior Josh Zander on a 6-yard pass.

So Cobbs again rolled the dice and went for the eventual, game-winning two-point play.

Benitez finished with 229 yards on 24-for-33 passing for two scores.Most of his short passes went to workhorse receiver Brenden Lewis, who caught 14 balls for 153 yards.

On the ground,Turner ran for 133 yards on 20 carries, while Jackson collected 80 yards in 23 carries.

Meanwhile, Carlsbad quarterback Julian Sayin lived up to his billing as one of the nation’s top recruits; he’s headed to Alabama

Savin went 19-for-26 yards for 225 yards and 3 scores (SDU-T stats), including a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter before Turner forced overtime, then a 6-yard TD pass to Griffin Rosenbloom to open the extra session.

However, Savin also threw his first interception of the season.


CIF San Diego Section Championships
Thurs., Nov. 9
Open Division

Granite Hills  (11-0)...  7 21 3  7 8 — 46
Carlsbad (10-1)......... 14  7 7 10 7 — 45

First Quarter
GH — Turner 21 run (Willock kick)
C — Walsh 9 run (Prasuhn kick)
C — Cianfrini 43 pass from Sayin (Prasuhn kick)

Second Quarter
GH — Jackson 8 run (Willock kick)
GH — Jackson 2 run (Willock kick)
C — Walsh 5 run (Prasuhn kick)
GH — Turner 4 run (Willock kick)

Third Quarter
C — Walsh 10 run (Prasuhn kick)
GH — FG Willock 46

Fourth Quarter
C — FG Prasuhn 24
C — Ferrelli 1 pass from Sayin (Prasuhn kick)
GH — Turner 2 run (Willock kick)

C — Rosenbloom 10 pass from Sayin (Prasuhn kick)
GH — Zander 6 pass from Benitez (Jackson run)