Mira Costa football gets back on track with win over Santa Monica

MANHATTAN BEACH — Behind an all-out team effort, Mira Costa’s soccer team bounced back from last week’s loss to defeat Santa Monica on Friday.

Sophomore quarterback Nicolas De La Cruz threw three touchdowns for the Mustangs (6-2, 2-1) while junior wide receiver Reese Leonard and senior running back Matthew Kraskouskas scored two runs apiece in the 42-6 Bay League victory.

“I think the guys did well,” Mira Costa coach Don Morrow said. “They played hard and made big plays when they had to.”

The game was decided early when special teams pressure from the Mustangs forced three straight errors from the Vikings.

A missed punt, a punt blocked by the Mustangs and a quick three-and-out by the Vikings on their first three drives gave the Mustangs a 21-0 lead after three drives.

“Everyone was a little angry after last week because it was a big game,” Leonard said of his loss to Palos Verdes. “But we know that was in the past and so we went into this game thinking we just had to get a dub (win) here.”

The Vikings got on the board in the second quarter on a Griffin Seals touchdown pass from Alessandro Nelson, but the extra point was blocked, leaving the score at 21-6.

The Mustangs dominated the rest of the game and extended their lead to 42-6 with three unanswered touchdowns in the second half.

Between Kraskouskas’ two points in the second half, De La Cruz’s third touchdown was a 46-yard pass to David Burga-Donovan.

“We had a few unfortunate mishaps on special teams that cost us three touchdowns,” Santa Monica coach Carter Paysinger said. “With a team as good as Mira Costa, you can’t afford this kind of mishap.”

A bright spot for Paysinger’s defense was junior safety Angel Cooley-Knotts’ fourth quarter interception that gave the visitors possession in the red zone. Despite the home field advantage, the Vikings’ offense couldn’t cut off the Mustangs’ lead.

Santa Monica will host Redondo on Friday, while Mira Costa will host Peninsula.

“O-Line, thanks to them,” De La Cruz said. “They are all brilliant, the defence, you can’t ask for much more.”

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