With just under two minutes remaining in the game, Jordan Fuentes got the handoff, spotted a gap to run through and juked a defender before accelerating to the left sideline for a 19-yard gain. The play epitomized his abilities and a career-best performance that saw him rush for 212 yards on 33 carries in leading Live Oak to a 33-21 win over Leland on Saturday.
“I knew I was going to get a lot of carries, so I just want to thank my line (Aaron Parra, Zach Enderle, Nathan Zavaleta, Calvin Robles and Hunter Stocksick) because they helped me have a phenomenal game,” Fuentes said. “I knew I was going to get a lot of carries, and I just wanted to help the team win.”
The sophomore had a pair of short touchdown runs and a tackle-busting, 49-yard run that saw him utilize his speed, vision and moves in the open field.
It’s not often a high school football player will carry the ball 25 times in a game, let alone 30. But Fuentes—despite giving up a considerable amount of weight to most of the Leland defensive players—showed his durability by carrying the load in a run-heavy game plan.
“We thought let’s go to our strength and our strength is the run game right now,” Acorns coach Mike Gemo said. “Jordan’s ankle felt good, he was running hard and broke away on a couple of them. He was excited, and when he starts feeling it, he’s doing well.”
The victory improved the Acorns to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the Blossom Valley League’s Mount Hamilton Division with one game left. Live Oak won despite having Caleb Ojeda and Brandon Hooks sidelined with injuries, and its best lineman, Logan Wiemann, out sick, Gemo said. The Acorns were coming off a lackluster loss to Christopher, but they weren’t going to be denied this time even though Leland led 18-12 at halftime.
However, the Acorns took control in the third quarter, outscoring the Chargers 14-0 to take a lead they would never relinquish. On the opening possession of the third quarter, Live Oak took nearly six minutes off the clock with an 11-play, 65-yard drive that culminated with Trent Cousens scoring from a yard out on a quarterback sneak, giving the Acorns a 19-18 lead.
On the ensuing series, Live Oak running back/linebacker Mosiah Saulala recovered a fumble deep in Leland territory. Five plays later, Saulala (56 yards on five carries) scored on a spectacular 19-yard run in which he bowled over a defender at the 10-yard line before reaching the end zone.
Zach Souza had a team-best three tackles for losses, leading a defense that proved stout in the second half. Live Oak’s ability to run the ball—especially in the second half—took major time off the clock and limited Leland to just four possessions in the third and fourth quarters combined.
The Acorns finished with a season-high 272 yards rushing. With one game left against Lincoln, the Acorns want nothing more than to finish a perfect 4-0 in league play.
“The seniors have four practices and one game left,” Gemo said.
Fuentes said it was important for the team to bounce back with a win after the Christopher loss.
“We didn’t play to the best of our abilities and wanted to come out and do better than last time,” he said.