With the score tied at 14 in the fourth quarter, momentum on the side of Crean Lutheran High, Mission Prep senior Andrew Boncich made a play.
As Crean Lutheran's punter tried to back the Royals up again in its own territory with seven minutes to go, Boncich blocked punt Royals senior Patrick Miller scooped the ball up and returned it to the Saints' 6-yard line. Quarterback Bryce Fledderman eventually rushed 1 yard for the go-ahead score, and Mission Prep never looked back, reeling off two more unanswered touchdowns on the way to a 35-14 football win in Irvine Thursday night.
"We were able to battle though a lot of adversity," Mission Prep coach Chad Henry said. "It was tough and I think our kids learned a lot."
Henry said that adversity came in the form of a big Saints running back that was hard to tackle, turnovers and a nearly six-hour bus ride to the game, most of which was made through traffic without air conditioning.
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After the long ride, the Royals came out hot. Mission Prep wide receiver Angel Sanchez took the opening kickoff 91 yards to give Mission Prep (2-0) a 7-0 lead.
"We thought we were going to roll," Henry said.
But mistakes crept in.
Unable to move the ball through the air on the Saints, the Royals turned to running back Brayden Corona to seal it. The junior followed a big game in the season-opener with another one Thursday night, scoring the final two touchdowns for the Royals on 34- and 78-yard runs, respectively. The final score came with two minutes to go. Corona finished with 165 yards on 14 carries.
Fledderman was 7 of 14 for 78 yards passing, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to Sanchez, and one interception.
Henry said the Royals needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball but was happy with the way the team finished the game.
Mission Prep heads south on Highway 101 again next week to face St. Anthony High in Long Beach.
And this time, Henry says, the bus will have AC.