The hook-and-ladder play Calvary Chapel pulled off for a touchdown in the final minute of the first half Thursday night was more than a major swing of momentum.
The Meadows quarterback Garrett Gosse viewed it as a wake-up call for the defending Class 2A state champions.
After falling behind 26-21 at halftime, the Mustangs responded with a dominant third quarter on the way to a 48-34 victory in a wild 2A Southern League opener at The Meadows.
“I think going into halftime down really made us step up and realize that we can lose games,” Gosse said. “Just because we won state last year doesn’t mean we’re going to do well this year.”
Gosse, a sophomore, completed 16 of 24 passes for 292 yards and five touchdowns with one interception.
“I’m impressed with him,” Mustangs coach Frank DeSantis said of Gosse. “He’s an intelligent, tough kid. He can go and battle, and he understands what it’s all about.”
The Meadows (2-1, 1-0) held Calvary Chapel (0-2, 0-1) scoreless in the second half until Hunter Rodriguez hit Luke Bilbao with a 22-yard touchdown pass with 8:34 remaining.
“The third quarter was our quarter last season, and we need to make it that this season,” Gosse said.
David Liu carried 25 times for 131 yards and one TD for The Meadows. Teammate Dylan Lee caught five passes for 104 yards and two scores.
But it was Austin Brown who starred in all three phases for the Mustangs. The junior receiver/defensive back had five receptions for 115 yards and two TDs, intercepted two passes on defense and scored on an 84-yard kickoff return with 8:21 left.
“That’s why we call him ‘the playmaker,’” Gosse said of Brown.
In a game featuring five lead changes, three of the Lions’ five touchdowns came on plays of 48 or more yards. One such play was the hook-and-ladder for a TD with 50.3 seconds left in the first half.
Joey Peterson hauled in a 15-yard pass from Rodriguez before pitching the ball to Justin Cox, who sprinted 61 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown.
“They scored on a lot of big plays,” DeSantis said. “We tried to (use) ball control to wear them down. They did a good job. They’re going to win a lot of games.”
Cox rushed for 225 yards and two TDs on 10 attempts, also scoring on a 48-yard run in the second quarter.
Rodriguez completed 10 of 23 passes for 120 yards and two TDs with three interceptions.
Henderson International 56, Beatty 18 — At Beatty, Jay Sutorius scored three touchdowns, and Henderson International (2-1, 1-0 Class 1A Southern) found the end zone on six of its first seven possessions in a rout of the Hornets (1-2, 0-2).
Sutorius hauled in a 49-yard pass from Logan Christie for one score, returned a kickoff 83 yards for another and had a 3-yard rushing TD.
Christie was 6 of 8 passing for 134 yards, including TD passes of 14 yards to Charles Pachas and 25 yards to Keenan Gladd-Brown.
Pachas, who had 11 carries for 104 yards, also had a 9-yard TD run. Chris Laliberte added scoring runs of 62 and 10 yards.
Beatty’s Tony Dare scored on runs of 67 and 27 yards, and Anthony Turner added a 61-yard TD run.